Digital fraud attempts from Canada increased during pandemic: TransUnion

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April 9, 2021 – TransUnion’s latest quarterly analysis of global online fraud trends found that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, fraudsters in Canada are increasing their digital schemes against businesses. TransUnion’s recent Canada Consumer Pulse Study also found that 34 per cent of Canadian consumers have recently been targeted by digital fraud.

TransUnion studied fraud against businesses 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). 

It found the percent of suspected fraudulent digital transaction attempts against businesses originating from Canada increased 26 per cent when comparing the following two periods: Period 1 (March 11, 2019 and March 10, 2020); Period 2 (March 11, 2020 – when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic – and March 10, 2021). 

“Fraudsters are always looking to take advantage of significant world events. The COVID-19 pandemic and its corresponding rapid digital acceleration brought about by stay-at-home orders is a global event unrivaled in the online age,” said Anne-Marie Kelly, head of Market Development, Identity Management and Fraud Solutions at TransUnion. “By analyzing billions of transactions we assessed fraud indicators over the past year, it has become clear that the war against the virus has also brought about a war against digital fraud.” 

TransUnion found the Canadian cities with the highest percent of suspected fraudulent digital transactions were: 1) Longueuil, 2) Quebec City and 3) Montreal. 

Consumers Targeted by COVID-19 Schemes

TransUnion’s Global Consumer Pulse Study also found that the 34 per cent of Canadian consumers who said they are being targeted by digital fraud related to COVID-19 in the last three months is higher than approximately one year ago. In April 2020, 28 per cent said they had been targeted by digital fraud related to COVID-19. Gen Z (1995-2002) is currently the most targeted out of any generation at 49 per cent of those surveyed. They are followed by Gen X (1965–1979) which have been targeted 34 per cent.

Among consumers in Canada who reported being targeted with digital COVID-19 schemes, the top pandemic-themed scam is phishing with 44 per cent saying they were hit with it. 

Examining Fraud Types and Their Impact on Industries

Globally, TransUnion analyzed the below industries for a change in the percent of suspected digital fraud attempts against them, comparing the periods of March 11, 2019 – March 10, 2020 and March 11, 2020 – March 10, 2021.

Credit: TransUnion