Online fraud has risen due to companies fast-tracking new technology solutions during lockdown, Equifax has claimed, reinforcing the need for robust security controls.
The credit reference agency cited a report released by fraud prevention service Cifas on Monday, which found that there has been a 13 per cent rise in reports to the National Fraud Database from 2018.
Equifax said that many businesses have rushed to upgrade their technology to maintain customers during the pandemic, which will have only heightened the risks.
“With a doubling of online retail facility takeovers in 2019 from the previous year, we can expect this figure to grow once again in 2020 as companies have fast-tracked digital and online solutions to maintain customers and revenues during lockdown,” said Keith McGill, head of fraud & ID at Equifax UK.
“In cases where this move to technology is unfamiliar and rushed, fraudsters will undoubtedly find opportunities to take advantage.
“According to the [Cifas] research, 87 per cent of identity theft came via online channels in 2019, reinforcing the importance now more than ever for companies to ensure they have robust and secure controls in place for processes such as customer identification and onboarding. In this time of heightened online activity and risk, it’s also crucial for individuals to take greater care with their online security and personal details.”
However, McGill said there is “light at the end of the tunnel”, as the pandemic has forced businesses to accelerate their digital transformation.
“Many are using this as an opportunity to embrace the latest technologies, and for those without legacy systems they are able to introduce cutting-edge services and security from the outset,” he added.
“Consumer confidence, coupled with more effective digital identification and security measures, will ultimately benefit the reputation and longer-term strength of companies committed to making the change.
“For those who are slow to react, Covid-19 is likely to speed up their decline as the world moves to a digital future.”
According to Cifas, identity fraud rose by nearly a fifth last year, accounting for the largest number of cases recorded by Cifas members at 61 per cent.
“The steady increase in fraudulent conduct over the last few years provides us with a stark warning that we must start taking this threat seriously,” said Nick Downing, chief intelligence officer for Cifas.
“We all need to take a step back and consider how we can change our behaviours.
“Businesses must look to how they can better safeguard their systems and protect their customer’s data, and individuals need to be constantly vigilant of fraudsters trying to steal their personal and financial information.”