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Digital fraudsters still active amid lockdown, study bares

A study by the local business of TransUnion LLC revealed that 44 percent of the Filipinos were targeted by digital fraud in the past three months.

Preliminary data from TransUnion Philippines Consumer Pulse Survey noted that 40 percent of the respondents said the cyberattack were usually pandemic-themed phishing scams. The credit reporting agency will release the full report next month.

“Fraudsters are always looking to take advantage of significant world events,” TransUnion Philippines President and CEO Pia L. Arellano said. “The Covid-19 pandemic and its corresponding rapid digital acceleration brought about by stay-at-home orders is a global event unrivaled in the online age.”

Most of the suspected fraudulent transactions transpired in Salcedo (Eastern Samar), Makati City and Manila, according to the study.

TransUnion’s findings point out that the most targeted segment is the “Gen Z” (individuals born in the years 1995 to 2002) at 48 percent. Millennials (born 1980-1994) followed at 42 percent.

It was also noted that digital fraud on March 11, 2020 to March 10, 2021 has increased by 31 percent from March 11, 2019 to March 10, 2020.

In the same periods, attempted fraud from the Philippines against telecommunication companies surged the most at more than tenfold year-on-year. The perpetrators were usually attacking the credit cards of the consumers in this segment.

“Although credit card fraud isn’t unusual for any retailer, fraudsters are now looking for ways to monetize their efforts and are using fraudulent credit cards to purchase high end phones and then sell them on the black market,” TransUnion noted.

Following this is digital scams against the logistics industry, which increased by 81.53 percent on shipping fraud.

Online scams in financial services, meanwhile, climbed by 38.77 percent during the period.

“By analyzing 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,” Arellano added.

In a recent statement, several business groups in the Philippines urged the public to be more vigilant when transacting online. They reminded the clients to pay attention to notices and warnings by financial institutions about digital frauds, reminding them to never share online credentials and one-time passwords.

According to the Philippine National Police Anti-Cyber Crime Group, there were 869 online scams recorded from March to September last year, which is 37 percent higher than the 633 incidents registered during the same period in 2019.

Recent studies by financial firms Visa and Mastercard explained that more and more Filipinos are adopting cashless payment schemes amid the accelerated shift to digital.

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