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Amid the COVID-19 lockdown that forced tens of millions of consumers to migrate to online channels to manage their sensitive personal business, U.S. mobile banking grew 50%, with new registrations spiking 200% in April alone. This reactionary movement has also opened the door for bad actors and opportunistic fraudsters worldwide. It is an unfortunate truth that these malicious people look to profit from global crises, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.

A new report published by Javelin in October, The Escalation of Digital Fraud: Impacts of the Coronavirus on Global Fraud Challenges, finds the pandemic fueling a multibillion-dollar fraud surge across the globe. The report discusses how fraud is shifting drastically from counterfeit card capabilities toward harder-to-identify fraud schemes of social engineering, cyber intrusions, and account takeovers in an increasingly digital environment.

Javelin conducted independent interviews between January and September 2020 with payment and security executives from 20 countries in five regions – North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. This study, kicked off pre-pandemic, followed trends through the early recovery period, and captures snapshots of significant spikes in fraudulent activity.

According to the report, digital fraud trends have become more sophisticated over the past two years but have noticeably accelerated in the past nine months as COVID-19 has changed how consumers interact with financial services and commerce.

A senior fraud management executive at a global card processor who contributed to the study reported an increase of almost 35% in fraud attempts, “which indicates that criminals are more active in breaking through digital channels, taking advantage that fraud strategies leverage normal behavior.”

Key findings from the Javelin report include:

  • Digital payments present an escalating global risk. Criminals coordinate and share information more openly than do financial institutions, giving them a significant advantage in thwarting fraud controls.
  • Digital fraud is increasing in frequency and sophistication. Fraudsters and criminal networks’ arsenal of tricks is becoming as advanced as the technologies used to detect their activities.
  • Data is critical. Using data for real-time analytics and automated actions will be crucial to thriving in this new digital normal.

The report also found that the initial skepticism that came with early coronavirus lockdowns has now solidified into an agreement that the changes are here to stay. Account takeovers were up 70% from 2018 to 2019. That trend is likely to remain steady with the massive movement to online account management during the pandemic.

Socure offers a comprehensive suite of industry-leading fraud solutions to effectively detect and stop the fast moving threat of account takeovers.

A holistic approach to digital identity verification

When a fraudster attempts to interdict an existing account, as with the case in account takeover, Socure can determine quickly and with high accuracy the risk of attributes presented such as email, phone, and address to determine whether they correlate back to the account owner at origination. If multiple attributes have been involved in fraudulent activity in the past, Socure recommends running a Sigma Identity Fraud check in conjunction with a Sigma Synthetic Fraud check to determine the likelihood that the person is who they say they are.

If the passive fraud checks determine the end-user is a potential fraud risk, Socure’s automated document verification service, DocV, can be introduced as a step-up feature. DocV is the most scalable, accurate, and customer experience-centric document service available. A fully-automated, omnichannel solution, DocV authenticates users with minimal friction by guiding them through an error-proof verification process from their mobile phones. An additional layer of accuracy enables matching a photo of a consumer’s identification with a selfie in under 15 seconds. And because the service is 100% software-driven, no manual reviews are required.

Socure ID+ is a real-time, predictive analytics platform that provides fraud prediction through a single, modular API that is in use by major banking institutions today to prevent account takeover attempts. The platform includes Sigma Identity fraud and Sigma Synthetic fraud, along with Email Risk Score, Phone Risk Score, Address Risk Score, Device Risk Score, DocV, and the Alert List, Socure’s database of first- and third-party identities.

Fraud attacks are not going away, they are becoming more prevalent given current events and gaining in sophistication. Now is the time to evaluate your strategy to protect you and you customers, schedule a demo today and learn how Socure can help!

Anthony Winslow
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Anthony Winslow

Anthony Winslow

Anthony is VP and Head of Product Marketing at Socure. Previously, he was at Raise, the world's largest marketplace for retail currency. Prior to that, Anthony was a co-founder at Slide, a gift card wallet app on iOS and Android, that was acquired by Raise in 2016. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Anthony worked in business and product development at American Express.