NEWS: As Businesses Reopen Physical Locations, New TransUnion Research Shows Fraudsters Decrease Online Schemes Against Companies

TransUnion’s latest quarterly analysis of global online fraud trends found that fraudsters are decreasing their schemes against businesses, but increasing COVID-19 focused scams against consumers online.

TransUnion came to its conclusions about fraud against businesses based on intelligence from billions of transactions and more than 40,000 websites and apps contained in its fraud prevention solution, IDVision® with iovation®. It found the percentage of suspected fraudulent digital transactions against businesses worldwide decreased 9% from the beginning of the pandemic (“phase 1,” 11th March – 18th May) to when businesses began reopening (“phase 2,” 19th May – 25th July). In contrast, TransUnion’s Consumer Financial Hardship surveys found consumers targeted by digital COVID-19 schemes increased 10% from the early days of the pandemic (week of 13th April) to more recently (week of 27th July).

“With the rush for businesses to go digital as many were forced to go completely online

Shai Cohen Business
Shai Cohen, Senior Vice President of Global Fraud Solutions at TransUnion

almost overnight, fraudsters tried to take advantage,” said Shai Cohen, Senior Vice President of Global Fraud Solutions at TransUnion. “They were most likely unsuccessful in their attempts and took their scams elsewhere as those businesses ramped up their digital fraud prevention solutions while providing a friction-right consumer experience. Conversely with consumers, fraudsters are increasingly using COVID-19 to prey on those persons who are facing mounting financial pressures.”

In contrast to the recent suspected fraud decrease against businesses, when comparing phase 1 (11th March – 18th May) to right before the pandemic (1st Jan  – 10th March), there was a 6% rise in suspected digital fraud against businesses. When comparing digital transactions pre-pandemic to during the pandemic (11th March – 25th July), suspected fraud against businesses remained relatively flat, increasing 1%.

Examining Fraud Types and Their Impact on Industries

TransUnion analysed the below industries for a change in the percent of suspected fraud against them, comparing the periods of 11th March – 18th May and 19th May 25th July.

Suspected Fraud Post-Pandemic Declaration

Industry Suspected fraud change Top type of fraud Top country for suspected fraud origination
Travel & Leisure 47% Credit card Bangladesh
Logistics 27% Shipping Egypt
Insurance 8% Ghost broking Bangladesh
Communities (online dating, forums, etc.) -1% Profile misrepresentation Saint Martin
Gambling -1% Promotion abuse Gambia
Gaming -3% Gold farming Grenada
Retail -10% Promotion abuse Tajikistan
Financial Services -13% Identity theft Syria
Healthcare -18% Identity theft Finland
Telecommunications -60% Credit card Syria

“It appears fraudsters assume travel & leisure companies are scrutinising transactions less in order to capture more revenue as the pandemic continues to severely negatively impact their business,” said Melissa Gaddis, senior director of customer success, Global Fraud Solutions at TransUnion. “Another interesting note is that telecommunications, e-commerce and financial services companies – all industries that have fared relatively well during the pandemic – were targeted with the most digital fraud early in the pandemic but are now among the least targeted. This shows us that fraudsters initially targeted the hottest industries with the most money to be had early in the pandemic in order to hide behind the rush of transactions but have now made an obvious shift.”

Globally across industries, TransUnion found the countries with the highest percentage of suspected fraudulent transactions were: 1) Kazakhstan, 2) Greece and 3) Cyprus. In the U.S. overall, TransUnion found the cities with the highest percent of suspected fraudulent transactions were: 1) Livonia, Mich. 2) Akron, Ohio and 3) Jackson, Miss.

Consumers Targeted By COVID-19 Schemes

To better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on consumers, TransUnion surveyed 8,265 adults in Canada, Colombia, Hong Kong, South Africa the U.K. and the U.S. the week of 27th July. More than three out of 10 respondents (32%) said they had been targeted by digital fraud related to COVID-19, with Gen Z (age 18-25) being the most targeted at 36%. Among consumers reporting being targeted with digital COVID-19 schemes globally, the top pandemic-themed scam is phishing with 27% saying they were hit with it. Despite the survey showing Baby Boomers were the generation least targeted with Digital COVID-19 scams, among consumers reporting being targeted they were the age group saying they faced the highest percentage of COVID-19 themed phishing scams.

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“Phishing shows fraudsters aren’t after a quick hit, but rather looking for the long haul,” said Gaddis. “Once a fraudster steals consumer credentials, the wave of disruption they can cause with a stolen or synthetic identity is endless from compromising multiple online accounts to significantly impacting credit scores.”

Consumers can learn how to protect themselves from fraud and identity theft with the TransUnion Fraud Victim Bill of Rights.

TransUnion will discuss the findings in a webinar with Aite Group, Fiserv and Ping Identity on 15th September.

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