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Online Payment Fraud Surged More Than 70 Percent in 2019 as Cybercriminals Exploit New Payment and Business Types

New Digital Trust & Safety Index Shows Fraudsters Are Now Mostly Using Mobile Devices to Commit Payment Fraud

Online payment fraud attempts increased by 73 percent in 2019, according to a new report from Sift. The research, the Digital Trust & Safety Index, details the different ways fraudsters target online businesses, the platforms and payment types they use, the times of year they most frequently strike, and many other patterns discovered through Sift’s global data network of more than 400 billion events per year.

Additional findings in the report reveal that cybercriminals are using mobile devices more than desktops or laptops to commit payment fraud. In fact, though Windows is the top single operating system for fraudsters, iOS and Android combine to make up more than half of attempted fraudulent transactions. And while, unsurprisingly, the number one most targeted industry vertical in 2019 was physical e-commerce, business services, digital e-commerce, education, and on-demand services all fell within the top ten “fraudiest” verticals.

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Other findings of note in the Digital Trust & Safety Index include:

  • New ways to pay, new ways to steal: The most common payment type associated with fraud? Not credit cards. In fact, credit cards were beaten out by promotions/coupons, cryptocurrency, digital wallets, and even “pay with cash” options that are popular with some on-demand services.
  • Fraudsters swing for the fences: Rather than trying to avoid detection with smaller purchases, fraudsters look for larger scores, with fraudulent order values reaching three times the price of legitimate purchases on average.
  • Trying to game the system: The largest attempted purchase on Sift’s platform in 2019 was for a video game power-up sold on an online marketplace. The attempted payment was $1 million, and though obviously fraudulent, demonstrates some of the new methods bad actors are employing in order to steal from businesses.
  • Summer is the holiday shopping season for fraudsters: Fraudsters don’t wait until the winter holidays to kick their scams into high gear. Rather, payment fraud attempts peak during the summer months.
  • Working on the weekend: Saturdays had the highest instances of payment fraud attempts of any day of the week.

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“The past few years have, unfortunately, ushered in an era of massive-scale and frequent data breaches that have led to fraud all over the web,” said Jason Tan, CEO of Sift. “Though our report shows that bad actors are finding new ways to defraud businesses, merchants who adopt a Digital Trust & Safety strategy can both fight fraud and reduce friction for legitimate purchases.”

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