A Third of Internet Users Are Actively Targeted by COVID-19 Fraud

32% of
consumers say they have been targeted by digital fraud related to COVID-19,
with phishing emerging as the world’s top digital fraud scheme related to the
pandemic, according to TransUnion, the US consumer credit reporting agency.

aggregates information on over 1 billion individual consumers in more than 30 countries.
Its customers include over 65,000 businesses.

New data from the firm’s Consumer Financial Hardship studies reveals phishing as the top digital fraud scheme worldwide related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency
surveyed 7,384 adults in Canada, Colombia, Hong Kong, South Africa, the UK, and
the US between June 30 and July 6, 2020. Globally, 32% of respondents said they
had been targeted by digital fraud related to COVID-19. 27% said they were hit
with pandemic-themed phishing scams.

The most
common types of COVID-19 fraud faced by Internet users in the areas were:

  • Phishing, 27%
  • Third-party-seller scams on
    legitimate online retail websites, 21%
  • Charity and fundraising scam, 19%
  • Unemployment scam, 18%
  • Fraudulent COVID-19 vaccines, cures,
    tests and PPE, 15%
  • Fake insurance, 15%
  • Shipping fraud, 14%
  • Identity theft, 14%
  • Stolen credit card or fraudulent
    charges, 13%
  • Stimulus check scam, 12%
  • Someone changing personal or account
    information via a call center, 12%
  • Account taken over, 11%

Schemes vary
somewhat by country, as TransUnion reveals in another breakdown. For example,
while phishing is most prevalent in Canada, Hong Kong, the UK and the US,
unemployment scams are the top threat reported by South African residents. Colombia,
for its part, regularly deals with third-party seller scams on legitimate
online retail websites.

“From the
impacts of phishing and other well documented COVID-19 scams like unemployment
fraud, it’s clear that fraudsters have the data and increasing opportunities to
create synthetic identities and utilize stolen identities,” said Shai Cohen,
senior vice president of Global Fraud & Identity Solutions at TransUnion.
“Identity fraud is a primary way fraudsters leverage stolen consumer data from
phishing and other social engineering schemes. It can have long-term impacts
for consumers such as the compromise of multiple online accounts and bringing
down credit scores, which we anticipate will increase during pandemic

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