Nothing Has Changed; Everything Has Changed: Verifying Digital Identities and Fighting Fraud During the Pandemic

As the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold, we’ve already experienced unparalleled changes in the operating environment. Not surprisingly, those changes extend to identity verification, fraud, and the digital user experience. With tens of millions of employees forced to abandon their offices and work from home, the potential for fraud continues to grow exponentially as does the need to smoothly onboard and engage digital consumers, especially those moving offline activities online. As the depth and severity of the pandemic increase, businesses must anticipate the opportunities and threats they’ll face as consumers adjust to the new normal. Here are three takeaways from the crisis so far:

  1. Coronavirus scams are already here. Prior to the outbreak, the FBI reported an increase in phishing, particularly with respect to business email compromise, which increased 31% in 2019 and resulted in $1.7B in losses. Never ones to let a good crisis go to waste, all indications are that cybercriminals around the globe will continue to launch concerted attacks in the midst of the crisis. In fact, USA Today recently reported on the US government’s efforts to combat an increase in coronavirus-related scams.
  2. Consumers and employees are isolated and vulnerable. It stands to reason that we’re experiencing an increase in attacks. Given the number of people who are isolated and working from home, many of them tasked with teaching their children via unfamiliar online platforms, the number of stressed and distracted targets for criminals to exploit is unusually high. While separated from their coworkers as well as their company’s technical support, there’s a greater chance that employees will fail to pause before opening a phishing email and clicking on its contents.
  3. Technology needs to adapt. As the threat landscape evolves, fraud and security professionals need the ability to adjust and tune their fraud settings accordingly. For new customers, that might mean relaxing the security requirements to make the onboarding process less onerous. At the same time, companies must also possess the means to rachet up the requirements should a particular customer present a higher degree of inherent risk.

While companies and consumers continue to wrestle with the impact of the new coronavirus, fraud will remain an ever-present threat. In such an environment, businesses cannot rely on antiquated or convoluted solutions to protect them. In the best of times, fraud schemes change quickly and new and existing customers will abandon if their digital user experience expectations are not met. But as we’ve established, this is far from a normal environment and businesses must adapt accordingly.

So, while everything has changed with respect to how we live our lives, nothing has changed for fraudsters who are dangerously innovative, share their best practices and remain determined to steal, regardless of the circumstances we face as a society.

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