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Phishing top scam.

Cyber Scammers Stay Busy During Pandemic

TransUnion research says ID fraud is at the center of many virus-related frauds.

Phishing is the top COVID-19-related digital fraud scheme worldwide, according to new research from TransUnion’s ongoing Consumer Financial Hardship studies.

“It’s clear that fraudsters have the data and increasing opportunities to create synthetic identities and utilize stolen identities,” says Shai Cohen, senior vice president-Global Fraud & Identity Solutions at the credit-tracking company.

“Identity fraud is a primary way fraudsters leverage stolen consumer data from phishing and other social engineering schemes,” Cohen says. “It can have long-term impacts for consumers, such as the compromise of multiple online accounts and bringing down credit scores, which we anticipate will increase during pandemic reconstruction.”

TransUnion surveyed 7,384 adults in the U.S. as well as Canada, Colombia, Hong Kong, South Africa and the U.K. June 30-July 6.

It asked consumers if they had been targeted by digital COVID-19 fraud, and if so, what was its nature. Globally, 32% said they had been targeted. (For a generational breakdown, see chart below.) Top reported scams:

  • Phishing, 27%.
  • Third-party-seller scams on legitimate online retail websites, 21%.
  • Charity and fundraising scam, 19%.
  • Unemployment scam, 18%.
  • Fraudulent COVID-19 vaccines, cures, tests, and PPE, 15%
  • Fake insurance, 15%.
  • Shipping fraud, 14%.
  • Identity theft, 14%.
  • Stolen credit card or fraudulent charges, 13%.
  • Stimulus check scam, 12%.
  • Someone changing personal or account information via a call center, 12%.
  • Account taken over, 11%.

“Although the schemes may vary by country, a new approach to identity verification that supplements traditional authentication methods is needed to defend against their impact,” says Cohen. “The key is creating a friction-right experience where consumers are confident they are dealing with a legitimate organization or business.”

With fake identities increasingly available through phishing attacks and other methods, TransUnion recently expanded its Document Verification software tool that confirms a consumer’s identity in faceless and in-person channels by validating a government-issued identification document, such as a passport or driver’s license.

Document Verification provides organizations additional confirmation of a consumer identity during account origination and subsequent high-risk transactions.

Such transactions include purchasing vehicles online. That has increased since the pandemic’s outbreak.

The tool also provides an optional feature that compares a person’s selfie picture with a document ID photo.

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