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TransUnion's New Research Finds Identity Fraud at Center of Many Digital COVID-19 Scams

By: Banking CIO Outlook | Wednesday, July 29, 2020

TransUnion’s report revealed that 21 percent of surveyed people was victimized by third-party seller scams on legitimate online retail websites; 19 percent said they were hit with charity and fundraising scams; 18 percent reported having been exploited by unemployment scam.

FREMONT, CA: New research from TransUnion’s Consumer Financial Hardship studies showed that phishing is the top digital fraud scheme globally related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among consumers reporting being targeted with digital COVID-19 schemes worldwide, 27 percent said they were victimized by pandemic-themed phishing scams. To help prevent identity fraud that can result from phishing, TransUnion announced new advancements to its Document Verification solution.

“From the impacts of phishing and other well documented COVID-19 scams like unemployment fraud, it’s clear that fraudsters have the data and increasing opportunities to create synthetic identities and utilize stolen identities. Identity fraud is a primary way fraudsters leverage stolen consumer data from phishing and other social engineering schemes. 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,” said Shai Cohen, senior vice president of Global Fraud & Identity Solutions at TransUnion.

To better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on consumers, TransUnion surveyed 7,384 adults in South Africa, Canada, Hong Kong, Colombia, the U.K., and the U.S. between June 30 and July 6, 2020. Besides phising, their report revealed that 21 percent of surveyed people was victimized by third-party seller scams on legitimate online retail websites; 19 percent said they were hit with charity and fundraising scam; 18 percent reported having been exploited by unemployment scam.

“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. The key is creating a friction-right experience where consumers are confident they are dealing with a legitimate organization or business,” said Cohen.

With fake identities easily obtained through phishing attacks and other methods, TransUnion recently extended the global reach of its Document Verification solution. Document Verification confirms consumers’ identity in faceless and in-person channels by validating a government-issued identification document like a passport or driver’s license.

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