Identity fraud reaches ‘tipping point’, amid COVID-19 digital acceleration
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Identity fraud reaches ‘tipping point’, amid COVID-19 digital acceleration

London, UK - 23 November, 2020– The impact of identity fraud could be reaching a ‘tipping point’, according to a new report from GBG, the global specialist in identity data intelligence. The comprehensive study, GBG State of Digital Identity: 2020, found that a ‘trust gap’ may be widening between businesses and consumers, as identity theft becomes prevalent and businesses become overconfident.

The report highlights how a digital acceleration in 2020 has seen new cohorts of customers join the digital economy for the first time: a third of consumers aged 75 or older signed up to a new online account this year, for example. Despite a fifth of the public being hit by identity fraud this year, businesses are prioritising experience over security: a quarter say ‘high’ or ‘extreme’ levels of fraud are still accepted within their organisation.

The findings come as the UK and US join a growing list of countries accelerating policy initiatives designed to address the challenge of digital identity. And GBG’s findings suggests that time is of the essence: the public has become more concerned about fraud as a result of COVID-19, and despite many instances of overconfidence, businesses feel unprepared for emerging threats such as ‘social engineering’ and ‘synthetic identity fraud’.

Key findings from the GBG State of Digital Identity 2020 include:

  • Digital acceleration in 2020
    47% of consumers opened an online shopping account this year, followed by social media (35%) and online banking (31%). They increasingly see their mobile number (50%), email address (48%) and biometric data (28%) as core parts of their identity
  • Identity theft is sweeping across Europe
    1 in 5 consumers were affected by identity fraud this year
  • COVID caution reaches consumers
    1 in 3 have become more worried about fraud, as a result of COVID-19
  • Black market for personal data contributes to anxiety
    33% of the public now believe their personal information is currently available for sale online; research suggests that identities are 'for sale' on the dark web from as little as £10
  • The threat matrix is evolving
    Businesses say credit and debit card fraud (56%), phishing attacks (46%) and e-transfer fraud (37%) are most prevalent today – but they are now least prepared to fend off synthetic identity fraud (26%), IP piracy (26%) and social engineering attempts (25%)
  • Banking and government fraud top concerns list
    Banks are streets ahead of new ‘fintech’ challengers for accounts opened this year. But they are also most at risk of losing trust, topping the chart for consumers’ fears over fraud risk (36%) - followed by government fraud (11%)
  • Brits exposed in run-up to Christmas
    GBG’s eCommerce experts predict retailers will be hit by an average of 20,000 fraud attempts each, during the festive shopping period (November-January) this year. It could see up to 24million customers falling victim to eCommerce fraud during this period

Gus Tomlinson, GM of Identity Fraud, Europe at GBG: “The complex set of data points which shape our identity are now vital in keeping the wheels of commerce turning. They create digital trust, allowing people and providers to interact safely without opening the floodgates to fraud.”

Gus cites the concept of ‘friendly friction’ as key to economic growth, post-pandemic: “The research shows that not only is identity fraud already prolific, the ‘trust gap’ it creates poses a risk to industries which will depend on digital trust if they are to thrive in 2021 and beyond. For some businesses and even entire sectors, we are nearing a tipping point: get this balance wrong, and lose trust – and therefore customers – for good.”

With 57% of businesses seeing fraud levels rise this year, the cost is adding up: each individual identity fraud attempt can costs an average of £1,000 - £4,999 to the organisation. To help businesses better navigate this challenge and tackle identity fraud, GBG has launched its Identity Fraud Calculator – an interactive tool allowing businesses to understand how much identity fraud is costing them, and visualise the impact of adapting their fraud prevention strategy.

The findings and full report are available now here


About GBG 

GBG offers a range of solutions that help organisations quickly validate and verify the identity and location of their customers. 

Our market-leading technology, data and expertise help our customers improve digital access, deliver a seamless experience and establish trust so that they can transact quickly, safely and securely with their customers online. 

Headquartered in the UK and with over 1,000 team members across 16 countries, we work with 20,000 customers in over 70 countries. Some of the world's best-known businesses rely on GBG to provide digital services and keep the economy moving, from US e-commerce giants to Asia's biggest banks and European household brands. 

About the research

GBG commissioned market intelligence firm Qualtrics to conduct a survey of over 1,000 consumers over the age of 18, and over 150 business decision-makers across a range of industries. The data spans five markets across Europe: the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

The report also incorporates publicly available data from Cifas, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and insight from GBG’s world-leading experts in fraud, identity and data.

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