More than half of businesses saw rising fraud levels this year

A graphic presenting two people emerging from laptops with one person being a criminal posing as a customer
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

More than half of businesses across the UK, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy have seen a rise in fraud levels this year, according to new research commissioned by identity management provider GBG.

Some of the most frequent attacks were credit and debit card fraud (56% of respondents), followed by phishing (46%), and e-transfer fraud (37%).

However, respondents said that they are currently least prepared to defend themselves from synthetic identity fraud (26%), IP piracy (26%), and social engineering attempts (25%).

What's more, one in three consumers said they had become more worried about becoming a victim of fraud as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, their fears may be justified; according to GBG, fraud has become a prevalent issue in 2020, with one in five consumers affected by identity fraud only this year.

The rise in incidents can be attributed to the digital acceleration powered by government-imposed lockdown restrictions and social distancing. This year saw many consumers open online accounts, with the most popular being shopping (47%), social media (35%), and online banking (31%), using mobile numbers (50%), email addresses (48%), and biometric data (28%) to log in.

GM of Identity Fraud, Europe at GBG, Gus Tomlinson, said that 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”.


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“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.”

GBG also warned that each individual identity fraud attempt could cost an organisation between £1,000 and £4,999 on average.

At the height of the pandemic in April, it was reported that about £2 million was lost to coronavirus-related fraud in the UK, with the NCSC warning that “an increasing number of malicious cyber actors are exploiting the current COVID-19 pandemic for their own objectives".

"In the UK, the NCSC has detected more UK government branded scams relating to COVID-19 than any other subject," the report added.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.