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Fraudsters Shift Focus at Mid-Point of 2021 from Financial Services to Travel and Leisure and other Industries

Fraudsters Shift Focus at Mid-Point of 2021 from Financial Services to Travel and Leisure and other Industries

TransUnion analyzes global digital fraud trends through June 30, 2021

As the prevalence of digital fraud attempts on businesses and consumers continues to rise, TransUnion’s newest quarterly analysis found that fraudsters are re-focusing their efforts from financial services to the travel and leisure and gaming industries.

Across industries, the rate of suspected digital fraud attempts rose 16.5% globally when comparing Q2 2021 to Q2 2020. In the U.S., the percentage of digital fraud attempts increased at a similar rate (17.1%) during the same time period. Gaming and travel and leisure were the two most impacted industries globally for the suspected digital fraud attempt rate, rising 393.0% and 155.9% in the last year, respectively. In the U.S., this rate rose 261.9% for gaming and 136.6% for travel and leisure.

TransUnion monitors digital fraud attempts reported by businesses in varied industries such as gambling, gaming, financial services, healthcare, insurance, retail and travel and leisure, among others. The conclusions are based on intelligence from billions of transactions and more than 40,000 websites and apps contained in its flagship identity proofing, risk-based authentication and fraud analytics solution suite – TransUnion TruValidate™.

“It is quite common for fraudsters to shift their focus every few months from one industry to another,” said Shai Cohen, senior vice president of Global Fraud Solutions at TransUnion. “Fraudsters tend to seek out industries that may be seeing an immense growth in transactions. This quarter, as countries began to open up more from their COVID-19 lockdowns and travel and other leisure activities became more mainstream, fraudsters clearly made this industry a top target. The immense growth in gaming fraud also can be attributed to the shifts in focus of fraudsters as this growing market becomes a larger target.”

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An example of the sudden shift in focus of fraudsters can be seen in financial services. Global financial services online fraud attempt rates had risen 149% when comparing the first four months of 2021 and the last four months of 2020. But when comparing Q2 2021 and Q2 2020, the rate of suspected online financial services fraud attempts have still risen, but at a much lower rate of 18.8% globally and 38.3% in the US.

Global Industry Year-over-Year Suspected Digital Fraud Attempt Rate Increases and Declines in Q2 2021

Industry Suspected Fraud Percentage Change Top Type of Fraud
Largest Percentage Increases
Gaming 393.0 % Gold Farming
Travel & Leisure 155.9 % Credit Card Fraud
Gambling 36.2 % Policy/License Agreement Violations
Largest Percentage Declines
Logistics -49.2 % Shipping Fraud
Telecommunications -30.8 % True Identity Theft
Insurance -16.7 % Suspected Ghost Broker

More than one-third of consumers continue to be targeted by COVID-19 related digital fraud

As online fraud attempts against businesses continue to escalate, one in three consumers stated that they have been targeted by a digital fraud scheme related to COVID-19 during the second quarter of 2021. TransUnion’s Consumer Pulse study in June 2021 found that approximately 36% of global survey respondents said they were targeted by fraudsters in COVID-19 related digital schemes. Nearly four in 10 (39%) U.S. respondents said they were targeted.

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Phishing is the No. 1 type of COVID-19 related digital fraud impacting global consumers in Q2 2021. Among global consumers who say they were targeted with COVID-19-related digital fraud, 33% state they have been targeted by or fallen victim to such fraud. Stolen credit card or fraudulent charges was the second most cited type of COVID-19 related online fraud among those targeted, affecting global consumers at 24%. Phishing was No. 1 in the U.S. at 35% followed by stolen credit card or fraudulent charges at 31%.

“One in three people globally have been targeted by or fallen victim to digital fraud during the pandemic, placing even more pressure on businesses to ensure their customers are confident in transacting with them,” said Melissa Gaddis, senior director of customer success, Global Fraud Solutions at TransUnion. “As fraudsters continue to target consumers, it’s incumbent on businesses to do all that they can to ensure their customers have an appropriate level of security to trust their transaction is safe all while having a friction-right experience to avoid shopping cart abandonment.”

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