A Look Back: 2023 Biggest Fraud Trends

December 19, 2023 by Laura Burrows

Fraud is a serious concern for everyone, including businesses and individuals. In fact, according to our 2023 U.S. Identity and Fraud Report, nearly two-thirds (64%) of consumers are very or somewhat concerned with online security, and over 50% of businesses have a high level of concern about fraud risk.

The fraud landscape is constantly evolving, and staying vigilant against the latest trends is critical to safeguarding your organization and consumers. As we reflect on 2023, let’s look at the top fraud trends and their continued potential impact on your business.

The evolution of new fraud trends

When economic uncertainty reigns, a rise in fraud often follows. To begin with, consumers tend to be financially stressed in such periods and prone to making risky decisions. In addition, fraudsters are keenly aware of the opportunities inherent in unstable times and develop tactics to take advantage of them. For example, as consumers rein in spending and financial institutions struggle to maintain new account volumes, fraudsters might ramp up their new account and loan activities.

Fraud is becoming more sophisticated. For instance, thanks to the rapid rise in the availability of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, fraudsters are increasingly able to impersonate companies and individuals with ease, as well as consolidate data from diverse sources and use it more efficiently.

The most impactful fraud trends of 2023

The fraud trends that emerged in 2023 were diverse, though they all had one thing in common: fraudsters’ keen ability to take advantage of new technologies and opportunities. And businesses are feeling the repercussions, with nearly 70% reporting that fraud losses have increased in recent years.

Here are five trends we forecasted in the fraud and identity space that challenged fraud fighters on the front lines this year.

Deposit and checking account fraud

With everyone focused on fraud in the on-line channels, it is interesting that financial institutions reported more fraud occurring at brick-and-mortar locations. Preying on the good nature of helpful branch employees, criminals are taking risks by showing up in person to open accounts, pass bad deposits and try to work their way into other financial products.  The Treasury Department reports complaints doubling YoY, after increasing more than 150% between 2020 and 2021.

 Synthetic identity fraud

Not quite fake, not quite real, so-called synthetic or “Frankenstein” identities mash up real data with false information to create unique customer profiles that can outsmart retailers’ or financial institutions’ fraud control systems. With synthetic identity (SID) fraud real data is often stolen or purchased on the dark web and combined with other information — even Artificial Intelligence (AI)-created faces — so that fraudsters can build up a synthetic identity’s credit score before taking advantage of them to borrow and spend money that will never be paid back. One major risk? As fraud rates rise due to the use of tactics like synthetic identities, it could become more challenging and expensive to access credit.

Fake job postings and mule schemes

Well-paying remote work was in high demand this year, creating opportunities for fraudsters to create fake jobs to harvest data such as Social Security numbers from unsuspecting applicants. Experian also predicts a continued rise in “mule” jobs, in which workers unknowingly sign on to do illegal work, such as re-shipping stolen goods.

According to the Better Business Bureau, an estimated 14 million people get caught in a fake employment scam yearly. Job seekers can protect themselves by being skeptical of jobs that ask them to do work that appears suspicious, requires money, financial details, or personal information upfront.

Peer-to-peer payment fraud

Peer-to-peer payment tools are increasingly popular with consumers and fraudsters, who appreciate that they’re both instant and irreversible. Experian expects to continue to see an increase in fraudulent activity on these payment systems, as fraudsters use social engineering techniques to deceive consumers into paying for nonexistent merchandise or even sharing access credentials. Stay safe while using peer-to-peer payment tools by avoiding common scams like requests to return accidental payments, opting for payment protection whenever possible and choosing other transaction methods like paying with a credit card.

Social media shopping fraud

Social media platforms are eager to make in-app shopping fun and friction-free for consumers — and many brands and shoppers are keen to get on board. In fact, approximately 58% of users in the U.S. have purchased a product after seeing it on social media.

Unfortunately, these tools neglect effective identity resolution and fraud prevention, leaving sellers vulnerable to fraudulent purchases. And while buyers have some recourse when a purchase turns out to be a scam, it’s wise to be cautious while shopping on social media platforms by researching sellers, only using credit cards and being cognizant of common scams, like when vendors on Facebook Marketplace ask for payment upfront.

Employer text fraud

Fraudulent text messages — also known as “smishing,” a mash-up of Short Messaging Service (SMS) and phishing — continues to rise. In fact, according to data security company Lookout, 2022 was the biggest year ever for such mobile phishing attacks, with more than 30 percent of personal and enterprise mobile phone users exposed every quarter. One modern example of these types of schemes? Expect to continue to see a rise in gift card fraud targeting companies. For example, an employee might receive a text from their “boss” asking them to purchase gift cards and relay the numbers. The fraudsters get to shop, and the company is left with the bill.

Why fraud prevention and detection solutions matter

Nearly two-thirds of consumers say they are “very” or “somewhat concerned” with online security, and more than 85 percent expect businesses to respond to their identity and fraud concerns. Addressing and preventing fraud — and communicating these fraud-prevention actions to customers — is an essential strategy for businesses that want to maintain customer trust, thereby decreasing churn and maximizing conversions on new leads.

There’s a financial imperative to address fraud as well. Businesses stand to lose a great deal of money without adequate fraud prevention strategies. Account takeover fraud, for example, is an increasing threat to financial institutions, which saw a 90 percent increase in account takeover losses from 2020 to 2021. By making account takeover fraud prevention a priority, financial institutions can alleviate risks and prevent major losses.

How to build an effective fraud strategy in 2024

In 2024, fraud management solutions must be even more technically advanced than the fraudulent techniques they’re combating. But more than that, they need to be appealing to consumers, who are likely to abandon signup or purchase attempts when they become too onerous. In fact, 37% of consumers have moved their business elsewhere due to a negative account opening experience. Worryingly for businesses, this number was even higher among high-income households and those aged 25 to 39.

To succeed, effective fraud strategies must be seamless, low friction, data-driven and customer-focused. That means making use of up-to-date technologies that boost security while prioritizing a positive customer experience.

 Concerned about fraud? Let Experian help

As we look back at the top fraud trends of 2023, it’s clear that scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods. Fraud can create huge risks for your business — but there are ways to act.

Experian’s suite of fraud prevention and identity verification tools can help you detect and combat fraud. Find out more about Experian’s fraud risk management strategies and how they can help keep you and your customers safe.

Learn more

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