Black Friday weekend marred by online shopping fraud

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E-commerce fraud trends show that around 7.8% of analysed South African financial transactions conducted during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period were potentially fraudulent.

This is according to credit bureau TransUnion’s analysis of transactions conducted between 25 to 29 November, based on intelligence from billions of data points and more than 40 000 websites and apps contained in TransUnion’s TruValidat fraud analytics solution suite.

The global report found that, for potentially fraudulent transactions originating from South Africa, the percentage increased by 4.2% when comparing it to the same period in 2020.

On a global scale, the analysis found that 17.5% of all analysed e-commerce transactions were potentially fraudulent – this is 3.7% higher than the five-day period leading up to Cyber Monday last year.

With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the move from offline to online transactions, detecting digital fraud attempts has become paramount for online retailers. While online shopping-related scams are nothing new, this year more customers took to online shopping, resulting in a significant upswing in scams using sophisticated methods targeting online shoppers and retailers, notes TransUnion.

“The holiday shopping season is a popular time for bad actors to engage in fraudulent activity globally, particularly in the e-commerce and retail industry,” says Hans Zachar, VP and head of solutions for TransUnion Africa.

“Online shopping is the new norm for the majority of consumers and that trend has been further accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers want to shop with online retailers that not only provide a seamless user experience, but also take consumer security and privacy seriously.”

According to TransUnion, the analysis found the top two reasons behind the potentially fraudulent e-commerce transactions identified globally were the number of accounts used per device (which triggers an alert when a device accesses a certain number of accounts during the period), and evidence of previous fraud on the account or the device.

Scams conducted by criminals include offering discounted gift cards, suspicious links in e-mails, use of cloned debit/credit cards, fake coupon sites and malware website re-routes, among others.

According to TransUnion, the percentage of suspected digital fraud attempts coming from mobile phones or tablets globally during the start of the holiday shopping season were 45.62% of all global transactions conducted.

The spike in suspected digital fraud during the traditional busiest days of the holiday shopping season occurred as consumers over the past several months expressed concern about being victimised.

TransUnion’s previous survey, the Q3 2021 Consumer Pulse Study, found that two in five (40%) South African consumers were aware of being targeted by a digital fraud attempt in the past three months.

TransUnion monitors digital fraud attempts reported by businesses in varied industries, such as gambling, gaming, financial services, healthcare, insurance, retail, and travel and leisure.

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