November 24, 2020

Feedzai’s Financial Crime Report: COVID increases fraud rate by 60%

  • Top 3 Global Fraud Contributors in 2020: Card cloning, High-Speed Ordering/Spending, and High-Risk Merchant Category Code
  • 34% increase in card cloning fraud rate across industries and regions
  • 13% increase in sporting goods purchases compared to last holiday season due to social distancing and prohibited indoor gatherings
  • 36% decrease in fuel purchases compared to Q1 and 89% Drop in Transportation Sector Transactions
  • 75% of customers plan to maintain new digital banking habits

San Mateo, California – November 24, 2020: Feedzai, the world’s leading risk management platform, has announced its Quarterly Financial Crime Report which contains financial crime indicators and consumer trends while drawing spending comparisons during one of the most complex shifts in consumer behavior. The report also identifies the top 3 Global Fraud Contributors in 2020 with card cloning, high-speed ordering/spending, and high-risk merchant category code taking the lead.

Fraudsters also seized opportunities provided by the shift to online transactions causing networks’ fraud rates to increase by 60%. Not only was there more fraud attempted, the dollar value of each attempted fraudulent transaction was 5.5% higher than it had been the six months preceding the pandemic.

The digital-first revolution brought on by the pandemic has shown that criminals – who already revealed technical sophistication – quickly adjusted to the new reality and that consumers adapted their shopping habits to the realities of lockdowns and social distancing requirements. In both cases, they’re not likely to switch back. In fact, 30% of consumers opened new accounts during the pandemic, and 75% of customers plan to maintain digital banking habits. A further 56% cited trust as the reason they opened new accounts with their current financial institution.

30% Increase in Card Not Present (CNP) Transactions

The radical shift to online commerce and banking produced a 30% rise in CNP transactions from April through August as compared to Q1 2020. As expected, the move away from in-person transactions realized a 22% drop in April for card-present (CP) transactions. However, and most surprisingly, by June, CP transactions, which dramatically decreased in April, recovered.

13% increase in sporting goods transactions comparing to holiday shopping levels

With new social distancing guidelines and a dramatic change in people’s social behavior, which prohibited indoor gatherings, came with new shopping needs. One sector, in particular, has seen an uptick: sporting goods. Transactions skyrocketed during Q2 and Q3, reaching 2019 holiday shopping levels. Even more impressive, sales were sustained over three months. May 2020 saw a 13% increase in the number of transactions compared to the peak holiday month of December 2019.

89% Drop in Transportation Sector Transactions

At the start of the lockdowns when consumers were sheltering in place, the transportation sector took a giant hit. Public transportation dropped by 89% and the number of gas station transactions dropped by 36% compared to Q1.

Fuel Transactions, Public Transportation, and Travel Refunds

The steep decline in transactions related to gas and fuel was short-lived and met with an equal and opposite rebound. Additionally, Feedzai saw an increase in transactions during the summer months.

The radical shift to work from home policies implemented to stop the spread of COVID forced many public transit systems to dramatically decrease their activity. Nine months later, public transportation remains down by 56% from pre-pandemic levels.

Travel refunds rose 150% in March, compared to early 2020, but after a difficult start, refund rates returned to their normal levels.

COVID cancels Black Friday but gives Cyber Month a big push

Black Friday as we know it is canceled for the year. Major retailers are limiting crowds and extending their deals beyond one day to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Consumers are now opting for Cyber Monday, which will morph into Cyber Month. It’s a necessary step to both ensure robust retail figures and also meet new realities ushered in by COVID, which has delivered previously unseen and unheard-of digital results: holiday season shopping levels in spring and summer. The dollar amount processed in May 2020 was higher than 2019’s holiday season. Additionally, the dollar amount increases over the previous year’s holiday season were sustained through the summer and early fall.

Monetary Value

26% increase in the dollar amount processed in May 2020 compared to the 2019 holiday season

13% increase in dollar value June-Sep. 2020 over the 2019 holiday season

Number of Transactions

30% increase per month in number of transactions from June-Sep. 2020 compared to Sep. 2019

“We’ve analyzed over 4 billion global transactions across all major industries to produce what we believe to be a comprehensive snapshot of the latest fraud and consumer trends,” said Jaime Ferreira, Senior Director of Global Data Science at Feedzai. “COVID has created a big disruption in the banking, payments, and e-commerce sectors with multiple impacts all over the world. Feedzai is in a good position to add clarity to this debate and help financial institutions to understand these complex shifts and how to better protect their customers.”

4 Ways to Spot a Scam

Fraudsters sometimes pretend to be someone from a tech or utility company, the government, or even charity. They might tell consumers that there’s a problem, an emergency, a virus on a personal device, or a problem with one or several accounts. In order for them to “solve” the problem, they ask people to verify their personal information.

Fraudsters also bombard people with questions and threats. They might say that a person is about to face legal actions or unwanted financial consequences. In every case, they will act as the person with the power to avoid any kind of harm.

Don’t provide personal or financial information to people that are calling you even if they sound credible. Legitimate businesses or government agencies won’t ask you for personal information like credit or debit card numbers, social security, etc. If anyone is asking you to act quickly to avoid legal or financial consequences, you’re in the presence of someone who is trying to scam you.

Never transfer money to people that say that that action will solve the problem, and never accept to deposit money in your bank account to then send it back to the person who is requesting it.

Carefully inspect the emails in your inbox that might contain suspicious links and keep a close eye out for fake websites that ask you to submit personal information. Text messages or rogue mobile apps are also common tactics used by fraudsters and scammers.

If you think you’re in the presence of a scammer, hang up, find a number from a legitimate source and use a different phone to call the institution to clarify the information you were provided with.

Access Feedzai’s Quarterly Financial Crime Report to learn more about the latest fraud and consumer trends.


About Feedzai:
Feedzai is the world’s first RiskOps platform, protecting people and payments with a comprehensive suite of AI-based solutions designed to stop fraud and financial crime. Feedzai is trusted by leading financial institutions to manage critical risk and compliance processes, safeguarding trillions of dollars of transactions while improving the customer experience and protecting the privacy of everyday users. For more information, visit

Media Contacts:
Feedzai [email protected]