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Online payment fraud attempts soar

criminal at laptop

Attempted online payment fraud increased 73% in 2019, well exceeding the growth of digital payments overall.

According to the inaugural Digital Trust & Safety Index from digital security platform Sift, more than half (51%) of the payment fraud attempted in 2019 was performed via mobile devices. However, only 52% of e-commerce retailers report tracking fraud on mobile channels. 

Looking at payment fraud attempts by operating system during 2019, the index found that Windows accounted for the largest share (37.73%), followed by iOS (27.75%), Android (22.9%), MacOS (7.9%), Unix (2.6%), and other (1.12%).

According to the index, the top 10 payment types for attempted online fraud during 2019 were:

1. Online promos
2. Digital wallets
3. Money orders
4. Cash 
5. Cryptocurrency
6. Gift cards
7. Credit cards
8. In-app purchases
9. Other third-party processors
10. Rewards points

The index also ranked the top 10 verticals most likely to be victimized by online payment fraudsters. Of particular interest to retailers are physical e-commerce (No. 1), digital e-commerce (No. 2), business services (such as shipping services and commerce platforms - No. 3), ticketing and events (No. 4), travel and transportation (#8), and on-demand services (such as food delivery and ride share - No. 10).

Most of the top countries responsible for fraudulent online payment traffic - Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Colombia, Ghana, Algeria, Mexico, Belgium, Switzerland, Morocco, and Iraq – primarily or significantly access the Internet via mobile device. Of the three countries where this is not the case – Mexico, Belgium, and Switzerland – Mexico and Belgium have both been previously identified as nations with increasing occurrences of online fraud.

August 11th, a Sunday, was the day with the most payment fraud events during 2019. May 13 (Monday after Mother’s Day) and Tuesday, July 16 (second day of the Amazon Prime Day online sales extravaganza) came in second and third. The overall fraudiest day of the week was Saturday, which Sift says highlights that fraudsters favor the weekends to rip off businesses.

The data in the index is derived from over 34,000 sites and apps in Sift’s customer base. Sift ingests 35 billion events per month to uncover millions of fraudulent events. The company’s engineering and data science teams derived results by reviewing and analyzing events that occurred across its platform in 2018 and 2019.

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