Surge in Online Shopping Drives Major Increase in Coronavirus-Themed Fraud Attempts

Attempts to defraud consumers are on the rise, as scammers exploit the surge in online activity during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Merchants are starting to suffer dramatic increases in COVID-19-related phishing activities, with stolen credentials released into the eCommerce payments chain, as well as increased friendly fraud activities, according to payment solutions provider ACI Worldwide.

Researchers found that the value of the average fraudulently attempted purchase increased by $36 in March, driven by electronic and retail goods. This corresponds to a 13 percent increase, year over year, according to the ACI report released this week. Consequently, the increase of fraudulent attempt purchase value has caused the fraudulent attempted transactional volume to decrease by 8 percent.

“During these unprecedented and uncertain times with millions now at home, many consumers are going online to purchase products or services,” said Debbie Guerra, executive vice president of ACI Worldwide

“Quarantine has changed lives for all of us, with consumers buying electronics and furniture—to support work, communication, school and entertainment—as well as items such as home goods and DIY products.”

“Fraudulent attempts are on the rise, and consumers must be vigilant as fraudsters are using the current situation to obtain and use their financial data and information,” Guerra said.

Industry experts project that this shift in consumer behavior – toward online purchases – will outlast the crisis, meaning consumers and merchants alike will have to be more vigilant than ever for fraud.

The first thing consumers should do is exercise caution whenever they receive unsolicited text messages and emails.

Bitdefender recently conducted a thorough analysis of spam activity and found that coronavirus-themed scams are on the rise, with a wave of seven new campaigns making the rounds in recent days. These include UPS / shipment-themed phishing emails, purchasing department scams, and the usual “urgent update” on COVID-19 matters. Bitdefender will soon publish a blog post taking a closer look at these scams to create awareness for the general public.

Here at Bitdefender we focus on protecting your devices from malicious activity and threats of all kinds. Now more than ever, we need autonomy and safety as we interact with the world through our internet-enabled devices. That’s why we have extended the trial for our best security suite, ensuring that you can take care of your family’s devices for up to 90 days. If you’re already set up, why not make an unexpected gift to your loved ones who might not be aware of emerging cyber threats?

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