Holiday shopping season fraud stats revealed

There’s a 1% decrease in suspected online retail fraud worldwide during the start of the 2020 holiday shopping season compared to the same period in 2019, a 59% increase from the same period in 2018 and a 14% increase from all of 2020 so far, TransUnion research reveals.

shopping season fraud stats

Holiday shopping season fraud stats

The findings are based on the same-store sales analysis of e-commerce customers during the traditional start of the global holiday shopping season, Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.

These findings mirror the recent conclusions in the report that found 50% of U.S. consumers are concerned with being victimized by fraudsters this holiday season. The concern is relatively uniform across generations, though Gen X are the most worried about being victimized at 53%.

Heading into the holiday shopping season, the study conducted from Oct. 28 to Nov. 5, 2020 found 37% of 9,515 consumers surveyed globally said they had been targeted by digital fraud related to COVID-19, a 28% increase from the same survey the week of April 13, 2020.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the move from offline to online transactions, detecting digital fraud attempts has become paramount for e-commerce providers,” said Shai Cohen, Sr. VP of Global Fraud Solutions at TransUnion.

“In order to avoid cart abandonment with all of these new sales opportunities, it is equally if not more important to ensure consumers are able to make friction-right digital transactions.”

Shopping fraud trends from Nov. 26 to Nov. 30

The percent of suspected fraudulent e-commerce transactions during the start of the holiday shopping season and entire year since 2018:

  • 15.54% from Nov. 26 to Nov. 30, 2020. 13.67% so far in 2020.
  • 15.70% from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2, 2019. 9.80% all of 2019.
  • 9.76% from Nov. 22 to Nov. 26, 2018. 11.12% all of 2018.

The days with the highest percent of suspected fraudulent e-commerce transactions during the start of the 2020 holiday shopping season:

  • Cyber Monday, Nov. 30: 26.03%
  • Saturday, Nov. 28: 12.39%
  • Thanksgiving, Nov. 26: 12.29%
  • Black Friday, Nov. 27: 12.02%
  • Sunday, Nov. 29: 11.68%

The global countries/regions and U.S. cities where the highest percentage of suspected fraudulent e-commerce transactions originated from during the start of the 2020 holiday shopping season:

Country/region

  • Puerto Rico: 44.4%
  • Greece: 30.9%
  • Hong Kong: 28.3%

U.S. city

  • San Francisco: 9.8%
  • Pittsburgh: 9.7%
  • Los Angeles: 9.6%

Mobile transaction and fraud trends

Also, consumers used a mobile phone or tablet for 58% of their online retail transactions during the start of the 2020 holiday shopping season. That is slightly down from 62% for the same period in 2019 and up from 55% for the same period in 2018.

For the holiday shopping weekend, retail transactions from a mobile phone compared to all e-commerce transactions were:

  • 62.84% on Saturday, Nov. 28
  • 62.68% on Sunday, Nov. 29
  • 60.09% on Thanksgiving, Nov. 26
  • 57.90% on Black Friday, Nov. 27
  • 50.37% on Cyber Monday, Nov. 30

“Customizing a transaction to the type of device a consumer is using contributes immensely to providing a smooth customer experience,” Cohen continued. “Identifying the device a consumer is using is also an essential piece of the puzzle in assessing the riskiness of a transaction.”

Always trying to emulate the purchasing patterns of trusted consumers, mobile is also the preferred method for fraudulent online retail transactions.

A mobile phone or tablet appeared to be used for 52.51% of all suspected fraudulent e-commerce transactions during the long holiday shopping weekend this year compared to 63.76% for the same period in 2019 and 60.37% for the same period in 2018.




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