8th November 2023

Nearly 1 in 4 fall victim to online shopping scams

F‑Secure experts warn shoppers to stay alert this holiday season as tech, clothes and gifts top the list of most popular scams. Nearly half (46%) of victims of shopping scams are under 35. 62% avoid shopping with small, independent businesses due to misguided fears of online swindles.

Helsinki, Finland – November 8, 2023: Bargain hunters are being warned to stay alert this year with shopping scams expected to surge over the next two months during the holiday season. New research released today reveals that nearly 1 in 4 consumers (24%) have been victim to an online shopping scam in the last year.

With over billions reported lost annually to online shopping scams and fraud, cyber security experts are urging shoppers to take measures to avoid losing cash to scammers, as clothes, gifts and tech all top the list of popular lures for scams.

The research, conducted among 4,000 adults by Census­wide and commissioned by F‑Secure, a global leader in cyber security, found that two–fifths of 25–34 years olds, more than any other age group, are most likely to fall victim to a scam. More than 2 in 5 (46%) of shopping scams were under 35.

The research found the top 10 shopping scams are:

  1. Tech or IoT (internet of things) devices 18%
  2. Clothing 17%
  3. Gifts 16%
  4. Sporting goods 15%
  5. Beauty 14%
  6. Food 13%
  7. Travel 12%
  8. Furniture or home decor 11%
  9. Vehicles 11%
  10. Concert tickets / event tickets 10%

Further findings revealed men are slightly more likely to be scammed (27%) than women (21%) and to lose more money than women.

The loss isn’t just hitting pockets, the impact is also harming the economy, as the research revealed shopping scams are disproportionately affecting smaller retailers — which could force them out of business as more than 6 in 10 (62%) admit they now avoid shopping with small, independent online businesses, feeling more secure shopping with well-known brands.

However, the reality is that scams can occur with any sized retailer. Of those who reported being scammed in the last year, small independents accounted for 28%, only marginally more than large platforms (such as Amazon and eBay) 26% and large retailers 19%.

Tom Gaffney, F‑Secure, said: The next couple of months are the biggest shopping weeks of the year which we expect cyber criminals to try and take advantage of, particularly as the cost-of-living crisis may mean shoppers are looking for deals, but not necessarily safely. We would urge everyone to be extra vigilant at this time of year and follow our tips before making any purchase online. Scams are becoming increasingly more difficult to spot but consumers can do very simple things to check they are safe when they’re shopping.

With a quarter of online shoppers admitting they’re not confident they can spot a dodgy site, here are F‑Secure’s top tips to stay safe when shopping online:

  • Use a free online checker such as F‑Secure’s Online Shopping Checker to find out if a website is legitimate.
  • Always use a credit card where possible because you might stand a better chance of getting your money back with credit card cover.
  • If you’ve not heard of a site before, do your research, check social media and reviews — but be wary of too many five stars as fake reviews can be bought.
  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Legitimate stores tend to offer competitively priced offers. If you encounter an online store with exceptionally low prices, pay extra attention to other potential indications of a scam.

F‑Secure’s new Online Shopping Checker allows shoppers to test any online store’s URL to confirm its legitimacy. The free tool detects the reliability of the store and shows trust ratings before making a purchase. The same technology is included as Trusted Shopping in F‑Secure’s Total Browsing Protection.

The research was conducted by Census­wide, among a sample of 4,001 consumers, aged 16+, across the UK, Germany, and Finland. (2,000, 1,001 and 1,000 nationally representative respondents, respectively.) The data was collected October 11–23, 2023. Census­wide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

UK sample was nationally representative on age, gender and region. Germany and Finland samples were nationally representative on age and gender. Extra­polations based on amount of money lost to scams at Christmas (3%) or in the last 12 months (5%), have had outliers taken out to validate the results.


F‑Secure makes every digital moment more secure, for every­one. We deliver brilliantly simple, friction­less security experiences that make life easier for the tens of millions of people we protect and our 200+ service provider partners. For more than 30 years, we’ve led the cyber security industry, inspired by a pioneering spirit born out of a shared commitment to do better by working together.