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Digital scams now hitting Gen Z the hardest: Research

One year after Covid-19: Digital fraud attempts in SA have increased exponentially, says TransUnion

TransUnion research shows digital fraud attempts in South Africa have increased exponentially.
TransUnion research shows digital fraud attempts in South Africa have increased exponentially.

TransUnion’s latest quarterly analysis of global online fraud trends found that since the Covid-19 pandemic began, fraudsters in SA are increasing their digital schemes against businesses.

TransUnion’s recent global consumer pulse study also found that 37% of SA consumers have recently been targeted by Covid-19 related digital fraud.

The study’s findings on fraud against businesses are based on intelligence from billions of transactions and more than 40,000 websites and apps contained in its identity proofing, risk-based authentication and fraud analytics solution suite.

The research found the percentage of suspected fraudulent digital transaction attempts against businesses that originated from SA increased by 43.62% between March 11, 2019-March 10, 2020, and March 11, 2020-March 10, 2021. March 11, 2020 is the date that the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a global pandemic.

“Fraudsters are always looking to take advantage of significant world events. The Covid-19 pandemic and its corresponding rapid digital acceleration brought about by lockdowns is a global event unrivalled in the online age,” said Keith Wardell, product director at TransUnion Africa.

“By analysing billions of transactions we screened for 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.”

In SA, across industries, TransUnion found the cities with the highest percent of suspected fraudulent digital transactions against businesses coming from them were Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria, in that order.

Provisional findings from TransUnion’s most recent Global Consumer Pulse Study found that the 37% of SA consumers who said they had been targeted by digital fraud related to Covid-19 in the last three months is higher than about one year ago.

In April 2020, 25% said they had been targeted by digital fraud related to Covid-19.

Gen Z consumers (born 1995—2002) are currently the most targeted of any generation, at 39%.

Among consumers in SA reporting being targeted with digital Covid-19 schemes, the top pandemic-themed scheme is unemployment scams, with 29% saying they were hit with it.

“The pandemic has shifted SA and global consumer habits to shop and entertain online more than ever before, which has also attracted digital fraudsters who are increasingly targeting related industries,” said Wardell. “Despite these threats, consumers expect that businesses can protect their transactions but still maintain convenient digital experiences,” Wardell said. 

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