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Digital Fraud Spikes Globally, New Report Shows

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When the coronavirus pandemic hit, people were forced to spend more of their lives online — and that meant more opportunities for cybercriminals to try to steal folks’ information. Two years later, we’re still in a pandemic. But what does this mean for online safety?

A new report from credit reporting agency TransUnion looks at recent trends for various forms of fraud around the world. The data shows business identity theft and identity mining or phishing increased more than 100% globally between 2020 and 2021. And true identity theft (using someone’s identity without modification) rose more than 80% globally between 2019 and 2021. That puts many people’s credit in jeopardy — and can lead to massive financial issues for those targeted.

Here’s what else TransUnion found.

Fraud issues on the rise

More than 4 in 10 (42%) Americans do more than half of their transactions online. This includes things like shopping, finances and business transactions. And it seems fraudsters are taking full advantage of that. For example, suspected digital fraud in the U.S. increased 60% in the gaming industry and 27% in the financial services industry between 2020 and 2021.

Overall, the top three fraud concerns in the U.S. are:

  • Identity theft (59%)
  • Credit card fraud (56%)
  • Account takeovers (36%)

With increased awareness comes an increased desire for more robust security measures.

What the people want

When it comes to security, Gen Zers (born between 1995 and 2004) in the U.S. prefer a one-time passcode for identity confirmation, while older Americans prefer multifactor authentication. And, in general, Americans tend to value things like the confidence that their data won’t be compromised (76%) and an easy payment process (63%).

So while security is top of mind for many in this increasingly digital-reliant world, that doesn’t mean people are willing to compromise on their user experience. In fact, globally, 62% of consumers say they’d switch companies for a better digital experience. That will be important for companies to consider as they look to combat these fraud-related issues.

Light at the end of the fraud tunnel?

People are noticing the increase in fraud, but they’re also taking steps to protect themselves. For example, 52% of global respondents say they abandon applications that request too much information. That’s especially smart given that 2021 saw significantly more data breaches than 2020. And 57% of global respondents would freeze their credit if they were a victim of digital fraud.

But things shake out differently for those who have been targeted: Just 1 in 3 global respondents placed a fraud alert on their credit report or set up a credit freeze after being targeted. That’s far from ideal. There are also many other steps that people could take to protect themselves from issues like identity theft and other forms of fraud, including:

  • Reviewing their credit card statements to look for bogus charges
  • Shopping only with trusted retailers
  • Using a credit monitoring service

Ultimately, though, it’ll take a combination of consumer savvy and investment in consumer-friendly digital security features to create a safer digital landscape.

Methodology: TransUnion surveyed 12,500 adults (ages 18 and older) from Jan. 12-18, 2022, with Dynata, a third-party research provider. Respondents are from 15 countries, including the U.S.


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