Suspected Digital Shopping Fraud in the U.S. Up 12% During Cyber Five Holiday Period Compared to Rest of 2023

TransUnion analyzes early holiday e-commerce fraud attempt rates

TransUnion released new findings today highlighting global e-commerce fraud that occurred during the start of the 2023 holiday shopping season. Based on proprietary insights from TransUnion’s global device risk consortium, the analysis found 3.6% of all global e-commerce transactions reviewed during the Cyber Five days were suspected fraudulent. The Cyber Five consists of the days between Thanksgiving, Nov. 23, and Cyber Monday, Nov. 27. When the consumer is located in the U.S., 2.4% of e-commerce transactions during that period were suspected to be fraudulent.

The analysis also determined that the average number of suspected digital fraud attempts on any given day during that holiday period globally was 15% higher than the same period in 2022, yet 50% lower than during the rest of 2023 (Jan. 1, 2023 to Nov. 22, 2023). However, when the consumer is located in the U.S. during the transaction, this number was 18% higher than the same period in 2022 and 12% higher than the rest of 2023 prior to Nov. 23.

“Just as the holiday season drives consumers online to begin shopping for gifts for their loved ones, so does it become a destination for fraudsters seeking to take advantage of this time for their financial gain,” said Steve Yin, global head of fraud at TransUnion. “Online retailers must ensure that consumers shopping their sites for the best deals are at the same time protected from fraud in the most seamless and friction-right way possible.” 

The study also revealed the suspected digital fraud rate for each day in the holiday shopping period for transactions where the consumer is in the U.S. during the transaction and globally. Similar to last year the suspected digital fraud rate was the highest on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23rd, during the holiday shopping period in the U.S.

The Suspected Digital Fraud Rate Varies for Each Day of the Holiday Shopping Weekend
Day Transactions in the U.S. Globally
Thursday, Nov. 23rd 3.1% 4.1%
Friday, Nov. 24th 2.2% 3.7%
Saturday, Nov. 25th 2.2% 3.3%
Sunday, Nov. 26th 2.4% 3.1%
Monday, Nov. 27th 2.6% 3.8%

As part of this analysis, TransUnion also determined the top indicators of fraudulent e-commerce transactions during the holiday shopping season globally. This year, transactions per IP (triggered with an unusual volume of activity from a single Internet Protocol [IP] address to a customer’s site in a short time period) and transactions per device (triggered with an unusual volume of activity from a single device to a customer’s site in a short time period) were the leading indicators for potential fraud attempts.

“The winter holidays mark the biggest shopping season of the year for retailers, but equipping themselves with the proper tools to detect fraud at the first warning sign is a year-round priority,” said Cecilia Seiden, vice president of the retail business at TransUnion. “A critical way to minimize fraudulent transactions while at the same time protecting legitimate ones involves implementing holistic fraud solutions that can verify customer identity and authenticity at the very beginning of a transaction, including both account creation and login.”

Consumers express concern this holiday season

The increase of suspected digital fraud during the traditional busiest days of the holiday shopping season occurred as consumers continue to express concern about being victimized during this popular shopping period. TransUnion’s Q4 2023 US Consumer Pulse Study found that most American consumers, 69%, are extremely, very or moderately concerned with being victimized by online fraud this holiday season—an increase from 64% in 2022.

TransUnion came to its conclusions primarily based on intelligence from its identity and fraud product suite, TransUnion TruValidate™, which helps secure trust across channels and delivers efficient consumer experiences. The rate or percentage of suspected digital fraud attempts reflect interactions which TransUnion customers either denied in real time due to fraudulent indicators or determined to be fraudulent after a manual review process—compared to all transactions it assessed for fraud.

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Cyber Five Holiday Perioddigital fraud ratedigital shoppinge-commerce fraudIntelligenceTransUnionTransUnion News