Holiday Fraud Concerns During Pandemic Come True

TransUnion research finds 14% rise in the rate of suspected 2020 holiday weekend e-commerce fraud compared to all of 2020; mirrors recent TransUnion survey where 50% of consumers expressed concern about being victimized by holiday fraud

CHICAGO, Dec. 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- TransUnion (NYSE: TRU) today released new findings around online retail trends during the start of the 2020 global holiday shopping season. The research shows a 1% decrease in the rate of suspected online retail fraud1 worldwide during the start of the 2020 holiday shopping season compared to the same period in 2019. The rate of suspected e-commerce fraud this holiday shopping season, though, is 59% higher from the same period in 2018 and 14% higher from all of 2020 thus far. The findings are based on the same-store sales analysis of TransUnion’s e-commerce customers during the traditional start of the global holiday shopping season, Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.

These findings mirror the recent conclusions in TransUnion’s 2020 Consumer Holiday Shopping 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 TransUnion found Gen X are the most worried about being victimized at 53%. Heading into the holiday shopping season, the TransUnion Financial Hardship 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, senior vice president 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.”

In addition to the above findings, TransUnion observed the following 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.
    1. Cyber Monday, Nov. 30: 26.03%
    2. Saturday, Nov. 28: 12.39%
    3. Thanksgiving, Nov. 26: 12.29%
    4. Black Friday, Nov. 27: 12.02%
    5. 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.


  1. Puerto Rico: 44.4%
  2. Greece: 30.9%
  3. Hong Kong: 28.3%

U.S. City

  1. San Francisco: 9.8%
  2. Pittsburgh: 9.7%
  3. Los Angeles: 9.6%

Mobile Transaction and Fraud Trends
TransUnion also found that 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:

  1. 62.84% on Saturday, Nov. 28
  2. 62.68% on Sunday, Nov. 29
  3. 60.09% on Thanksgiving, Nov. 26
  4. 57.90% on Black Friday, Nov. 27
  5. 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. TransUnion found that 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.

For an infographic about TransUnion’s holiday online retail findings, go here.

About TransUnion (NYSE: TRU)
TransUnion is a global information and insights company that makes trust possible in the modern economy. We do this by providing a comprehensive picture of each person so they can be reliably and safely represented in the marketplace. As a result, businesses and consumers can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for Good.®

TransUnion Global Fraud Solutions unite both consumer and device identities to detect threats across markets while ensuring friction-right user experiences. The solutions, all part of the IDVision® with iovation® suite, fuse traditional data science with machine learning to provide businesses unique insights about consumer transactions, safeguarding tens of millions of transactions each day.

A leading presence in more than 30 countries across five continents, TransUnion provides solutions that help create economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for hundreds of millions of people.

ContactDave Blumberg
Telephone 312-972-6646


1 Suspected fraudulent transactions are those that TransUnion’s customers either denied or reviewed due to fraudulent indicators