E-commerce fraud in UK increased significantly in 2018

According to research from UK Finance, the year 2018 saw a large spike in e-commerce fraud crimes perpetrated against British citizens. The research was compiled in the report Fraud The Facts 2019 and showed that 2018 had a total of £393.4 million in damages. This is a 27 percent increase from the previous year, and additionally, accounted for 59 percent of all credit card card fraud and 78 percent of remote purchase fraud.

The report explains the cause of this increase in UK e-commerce fraud, as well as the driving forces behind the criminals, in the following excerpt:

Data compromise, including through data hacks at third parties such as retailers, is a major driver of these fraud losses, with criminals using the stolen card details to make purchases online. There were several high-profile data breaches occurring in 2018, with significant brands affected, alongside a number of lower-level incidents. The data stolen from a breach can be used for months or even years after the incident. Criminals also use the publicity around data breaches as an opportunity to trick people into revealing financial information.

Fraud The Facts 2019 shows that UK e-commerce fraud did not start steadily increasing until the year 2013. Prior to this the crime percentage varied year by year, sometimes raising and sometimes lowering. After 2013, however, there was never a decline in the damage done. Before 2018, the two most significant years for UK e-commerce fraud were 2015 (£261.5 million in damages) and 2017 (£310.4 million in damages).

Data breaches are only one part of the equation, however significant it may be, when looking at this spike in these e-commerce fraud crime sprees. The other may very well be the sheer amount of people using e-commerce options to complete their purchases. The numbers have increased every year, and with many brick-and-mortar stores closing down in the face of giants like Amazon, it almost seems ridiculously obvious as to why these statistics exist.

Criminals always go after the easiest and most lucrative targets, and with so many instances of faulty security leading to data breaches, this report should come as no surprise.

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