Expectations are high that holiday shopping will look quite different this year. Unfortunately, this uncertainty is allowing fraudsters to take advantage of consumers already on edge during a time of unprecedented change and upheaval.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-store shopping at brick and mortar stores will be significantly curtailed. Already, 30 percent of Americans plan to avoid in-store shopping as much as possible due to health concerns, according to Kount’s “The 2020 Holiday eCommerce Guide.” Recognizing the risks associated with hosting massive crowds of shoppers during a pandemic, major retailers, including Target, Best Buy, Walmart and Kohl’s, have all announced they will be closed on Thanksgiving this year. 

In any event, the holiday season is already well underway, after kicking off unofficially with a hugely successful Amazon Prime Day (October 13-14), and is expected to last much longer than usual. Home Depot, for example, has announced a two-month Black Friday shopping season extending from November 1 through the end of the year, with holiday pricing available throughout that period. 

Fraudsters Capitalize on Uncertainty

With the promise of an extended holiday season and a strong push toward online shopping, credit union executives should keep a wary eye on three concerning fraud trends:

1. Account Takeovers. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, eCommerce account takeover fraud (ATO) rates have jumped by 378 percent. Among victims of such fraud, 41 percent reported that payment details were stolen and used to make purchases, 37 percent had money taken directly out of their accounts and 37 percent had reward points or credits stolen and used to buy goods or services, according to Sift’s “Q3 2020 Digital Trust & Safety Index.” Credit unions are clearly worried, as evidenced by the 46 percent of surveyed participants in CO-OP Financial Services’ October 8 FraudBuzz webinar who responded they were most concerned with ATO this holiday season.

2. Curbside Pickup. Another rising area of ….

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