TransUnion Find Digital Fraud Attempts Have Shot up by 149% Globally Since September 2020
Cybersecurity Europe North America

TransUnion Find Digital Fraud Attempts Have Shot up by 149% Globally Since September 2020

As more consumers go online for banking and other financial transactions, new research from TransUnion (NYSE: TRU) found that fraudsters are ramping up their efforts in the financial services industry. When comparing the last four months of 2020 (Sept. 1 – Dec. 31) and the first four months of 2021 (Jan. 1 – May 1), the company found the percentage of suspected global digital fraud attempts in financial services increased 149%. In the US, financial services fraud attempts increased 109%.

Across industries, the rate of suspected digital fraud attempts globally rose 24% when comparing the first four months of 2021 with the last four months of 2020. In the US, the percentage of fraud attempts increased at a similar rate (25%) during the same time period.

TransUnion monitors digital fraud attempts reported by businesses in varied industries such as gambling, gaming, financial services, healthcare, insurance, retail and telecommunications, among others. The conclusions are based on intelligence from billions of transactions and more than 40,000 websites and apps contained in its flagship identity proofing, risk-based authentication and fraud analytics solution suite – TransUnion TruValidate.

“The rate of fraud attempts are up globally and especially in the financial services industry because fraudsters understand this is where the most high value transactions are taking place,” said Shai Cohen, senior vice president of Global Fraud Solutions at TransUnion. “We are seeing more financial services organisations implement fraud prevention solutions with some success, though our findings make it clear that this is not the time to relax. As lenders increase their customer acquisition efforts in an increasingly digital environment, fraud mitigation needs to be a part of every marketing campaign. Financial institutions also need to do even better to ensure they are providing a secure marketplace that offers friction-right experiences to consumers.”

A secure marketplace is of special importance as covid-19 accelerated the shift to digital financial transactions. In late September 2020, 40% of consumers with a financial account said in a TransUnion commissioned survey that they are using digital platforms more frequently since the onset of the pandemic. The same survey found 60% of consumers said that the majority of their financial transactions are conducted via mobile applications.

Examining Fraud Types and Their Impact on Industries

TransUnion analysed industries with the highest increases and declines in the percent of suspected digital fraud attempts against them, comparing the periods of Sept. 1-Dec. 31, 2020 and Jan. 1-May 1, 2021.

Top Suspected Digital Fraud Rate Attempt Increases and Declines by Industry

IndustrySuspected Fraud Percentage ChangeTop Type of Fraud
Largest Percentage Increases
Financial Services149.44%True Identity Theft
Travel and Leisure25.03%Credit Card Fraud
Gaming9.24%Gold Farming
Largest Percentage Declines
Logistics-32.74%Shipping Fraud
Insurance-16.35%Suspected Ghost Broker
Retail-8.33%Promotion Abuse


TransUnion defines true identity theft, the top type of digital fraud in financial services, as the consumer using a stolen identity to commit fraud with the victim being a real person. The second and third most reported type of digital fraud by TransUnion financial services customers are first-party application fraud and account takeover, respectively.

First-party application fraud is when a consumer refuses to repay legitimately incurred debts and/or falsely claims to be a victim of identity fraud to evade debt. Account takeover is when someone other than the owner of an account uses the account without permission, indicating that the account has been maliciously compromised.

“An interesting dynamic is playing out where we are seeing other industries facing far fewer suspected fraud attempts than what has been observed in financial services. In some cases, we are seeing a decline in such fraud attempts,” said Melissa Gaddis, senior director of customer success, Global Fraud Solutions at TransUnion. “The key takeaway for businesses is that fraudsters do not treat every industry equally. They often pick and choose an industry to focus on based on the time of year or what businesses are seeing more transactional activity. At times, fraud attempts are simply conducted at random simply to determine if businesses are prepared to meet their challenges.”


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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