The COVID-19 pandemic massively accelerated the growth of e-commerce. According to digital fraud prevention company, Sift, the amount of money spent by online shoppers nearly doubled between 2019 and 2020. However, amid the surge in online purchasing came an increase in fraud. In fact, the Consumer Sentinel Network, which is part of the Federal Trade Commission, received more than 2.1 million reports of fraud in 2020. Consequently, consumers lost a combined total of $3.3 billion from these fraud incidents.
Over the past year, fraudsters scammed consumers and capitalized on the growth in online sales by targeting merchants that were either new to e-commerce or lacked the resources needed to implement proper cybersecurity precautions within their digital payment systems. Fraudsters’ tactics included:
- Malicious checkout pages—These pages look identical to merchants’ original checkout and payment pages, allowing fraudsters to gather consumers’ payment information.
- Silent fraud—This technique occurs when fraudsters evade detection within digital payment systems through the use of malware.
- Fraudulent charities—As online giving increased by 20.7% during the pandemic, fraudsters were able to hide behind traffic and transaction surges to take advantage of both merchants and consumers.
- Chargebacks—Chargeback fraud occurs when a fraudster contacts the issuer—rather than the merchant—to dispute legitimate charges and obtain a refund, all while still keeping the purchased item.
- Refund fraud—Fraudsters commit refund fraud when they acquire goods illegally and return them to merchants for money or other goods.
As consumers change their purchasing habits and have higher expectations for simplified transactions, it’s important for merchants to take precautions against e-commerce fraud, while still maintaining user-friendly systems. Specifically, merchants should provide safe payment methods that are easy for consumers to navigate and have ever-evolving fraud detection measures in place.
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