pandemic scams

Pandemic Scams and How Mobile Identity Could Help

11 November 2021
Mobile Identity

Many platforms are opting to verify and re-verify users to make many aspects of our lives more scam-proof. However in recent times fraudsters have used the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic to steal personal identities, financial information, and even medical information as people seek knowledge online about Covid-19.

New Scams

From fake websites collecting personal information in exchange for ‘important Coronavirus updates’, to online marketplaces selling those sold-out household items, fraudsters are finding new ways to take advantage and separate victims from their money.

UK Finance found there had been 15,000 instances of impersonation fraud in the first six months of 2020, a shocking rise of 84 per cent, resulting in losses of £58 million. These scams ranged from fake emails claiming to be from Netflix telling subscribers to update their payment details, to emails promoting shopping vouchers.

Victims have been bombarded with phishing emails and texts designed to harvest details, for example PayPal account information, social security numbers, and bank account numbers. Scammers even disguised themselves as government and health organisations and directed individuals to fake websites where personal information was required to view Covid-19 safety tips.

Companies that shifted their customer-facing operations online also understandably did not have the tools and procedures in place to fully protect their digital channels from fraud and identity theft.

How Mobile Identity Could Help

Future-proof digital identification and robust digital identity re-verification processes must be a constant focus. It’s this layered approach that will ensure fraud detection and prevention improve and the more layers of authentication companies have, the stronger their defences.

With smartphones providing a gateway to our personal and financial data, industries such as government, banking and retail should consider how to take a more collaborative approach to tackling fraud with mobile operators. The unique relationship and the wealth of data mobile operators hold on their subscribers can provide a valuable layer of identity intelligence and could be key in the fight against identity fraud.

Mobile operators hold a large amount of data including device data, roaming, SIM swapping, and location data that can enable them to detect fraudulent activity. This type of data can be shared with mobile identity providers to benefit relying parties such as banks, retailers, or other service providers, helping them to identify and authenticate customers looking to access their services under the same credentials.

So even if fraudsters somehow do get hold of personal or financial details the added layer of authorisation that comes from mobile identity could stop them getting access from another device, by detecting anomalies in behaviour, such as a mismatch in phone number or location. Mobile identity solutions such as verified MSISDN, KYC match or account takeover protection can all help verify a customer’s details across the mobile operator’s network to eliminate fraud.

It’s clear that our increasingly digital lives have resulted in a rise of online identity fraud and theft, especially on mobile, and even more so during the Covid-19 pandemic. But in acting as a digital identity provider mobile operators have the power to play a key role in building trust in online activities, making them as safe and secure as possible, and combatting fraud for good.


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