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Fraud Is On the Rise, and It's Going to Get Worse

The acceleration of the digital transformation resulted in a surge of online transactions, greater adoption of digital payments, and increased fraud.

Edge Editors, Dark Reading

January 21, 2022

2 Min Read
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Source: photo boy via Adobe Stock Photo

As more daily activities — work, education, shopping, and entertainment — shift online, fraud is also on the rise. A trio of recent reports paint a bleak picture, highlighting concerns that companies are experiencing increasing losses from fraud and that the situation will get worse over the coming year.

In KPMG's survey of senior risk executives, 67% say their companies have experienced external fraud in the past 12 months, and 38% expect the risk of fraud committed by external perpetrators to somewhat increase in the next year. External fraud, which includes credit card fraud and identity theft, is specifically referring to incidents perpetuated by individuals outside the company. For most of these respondents, there was a financial impact: Forty-two percent say their organizations experienced 0.5% to 1% of loss as a result of fraud and cybercrime.

On a macro level, merchant losses to online payment fraud will exceed $206 billion cumulatively for the period between 2021 and 20255, according to Juniper Research.

Social-engineering tactics such as phishing messages, fake social media profiles, and fake mobile applications are effective for a quick cash-out, says fraud and risk intelligence company Outseer (spun out of RSA Security in June) in its fourth quarter "Fraud and Payments Report." Malware such as Trojans are being utilized less often because they require more resources to operate and monetize, Outseer says.

More consumers taking a "digital-first approach to everything from shopping, dating, and investing" makes fraud even more attractive to criminals, Experian notes in its annual "Future of Fraud Forecast." One area that fraud is growing is in the buy now, pay later (BNPL) space — where customers make a purchase and receive it immediately but pay for it at a later time, usually over a series of installments.

Layaway plans aren't new, but with the surge in online shopping, more retailers have started offering this feature, and more financial services organizations have added this service to their portfolio. Experian cites figures estimating 45 million active BNPL users spending more than $20.8 billion. PayPal's BNPL service reported a 400% year-over-year increase in usage on Black Friday and processed more than $1 billion in transactions in November, Outseer says in its report.

BNPL lenders will see an uptick in two types of fraud: identity theft, where criminals are using stolen login credentials to access BNPL accounts and make purchases, and synthetic identity fraud, where criminals combine real and fake information to create an entirely new identity to create new BNPL accounts. The synthetic fraud is taking advantage of the fact that BNPL lenders frequently have less stringent identity verification rules to create new accounts, which are then used to defraud merchants.

"As the industry enters 2022, anti-fraud solutions that employ machine learning, data science, and shared global intelligence could be crucial for identifying and stemming BNPL fraud," Outseer says.

About the Author(s)

Edge Editors

Dark Reading

The Edge is Dark Reading's home for features, threat data and in-depth perspectives on cybersecurity.

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