By Paulina Cachero
Fraudsters looking to make a quick buck are everywhere these days, and it’s expected to get worse.
Credit reporting agency Experian predicts the threat of fraud will surge in 2023 as swindlers try to capitalize on economic uncertainty. That would build on a pandemic-related increase in financial deception of people who were stuck at home and conducting most of their transactions online.
Americans filed a total of 2.8 million fraud reports in 2021, with consumer losses totaling more than $5.8 billion — a whopping 70% more than 2020, according to the most recent data available from the Federal Trade Commission.
In an increasingly digital world, it can be hard to distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake as scammers come up with more sophisticated schemes, said Kathleen Peters, chief innovation officer at Experian Decision Analytics in North America.
Here are five fraud threats to be wary of in 2023, according to Experian’s Future of Fraud forecast.
Bogus Text From the Boss
As many Americans continue to work from home, Experian anticipates an uptick in employer fraud texts. This scheme typically involves a fraudster impersonating a boss. That “boss” asks the employee to purchase a gift card, then steals the card, leaving the individual or company with the bill. If you’re asked to send the card codes and details via email, consider it a red flag.
Fake Job Postings
As layoffs hit every sector from tech to finance, job seekers should keep an eye out for fake remote-job postings. Experian warns that scammers may try to solicit private information like a social security number or date of birth for a job that never materializes, and then use that information to commit identity theft. Job hunters should also be wary if a remote employer asks employees to re-ship goods or move money through personal bank accounts. You could be involved in what Experian calls a “mule scheme,” unwittingly helping to move stolen goods or launder money.
If you’re an avid mobile shopper on Facebook Marketplace or Depop, it’s buyer beware. Social-media commerce fraud could spell millions of dollars in losses for consumers in 2023, Experian said. While shopping apps were designed to make online purchases more accessible and intuitive, many platforms lack identity verification and fraud-detection measures. That makes shoppers on the platforms an “easy target” for fraud, Experian said.
Peer-to-Peer Payment Problems
From Cash App to Venmo, peer-to-peer payment services have exploded — and so have scammers on their platforms. Sending digital money is often “instantaneous and irreversible,” making the platforms ripe for fraud. Experian warns consumers may be duped into sending money to fake retailers for items that never materialize. Experian advises never to get tricked into giving out your account credentials — you could be enabling scammers to send your cash to themselves.
Forget identity theft: Scammers are making up identities entirely. The sophisticated financial crime involves a scammer creating fake personas using both real and false information to open lines of credit. The swindler will often max out credit limits with no intention of ever repaying the debt. The scammer can open multiple lines of credit across retailers or add stolen payment cards to accounts.
The increasingly popular scheme, known as “synthetic identity fraud,” is the fastest growing financial crime in America, according to the Federal Reserve. Experian anticipates that new iterations of this scheme will bypass and outsmart fraud controls and spell major losses for retailers.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com.