Now would be a good time to check your credit cards, cryptocurrency, cash, and other forms of currency. In a recent study from the experts at Sift, fraudulent payment attempts increased by 73 per cent in 2019.

Both online retailers and their customers should be on the watch. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of mobile devices to commit payment fraud. More than half of all attempted transactions are going through iOS and Android.

E-commerce platforms were targeted the most. But not far behind them were business services, education, digital stores, and on-demand services.

Fraudsters Move to New Payment Methods

Credit cards are no longer the most common payment type involved in fraudulent transactions. Cybercriminals have moved into new areas, including cryptocurrency, promotions, digital wallets, and cash payment services. These are the top ten most stolen forms of payment in order:

  1. Online Promos
  2. Digital Wallets
  3. Money Orders
  4. Cash
  5. Cryptocurrency
  6. Gift cards
  7. Credit cards
  8. In-app purchases
  9. Other third-party processors
  10. Rewards points


The reason for this shift is due to the flexibility of the new payment methods, especially cryptocurrency. The same things that people love about crypto (anonymity and instant transfers) make it a primary target for thieves.

No Longer Making Smaller Transaction

Many scams in the past involved charging small amounts on a large number of credit cards. People would less often notice a $2-3 charge vs. a $2000 one. But, in 2019, fraudsters took these new forms of payment to buy expensive goods and services.

The new goal is a massive score with order values averaging three times the price of legitimate purchases. Consumers and platforms have fewer options both to track and prohibit these activities. So it seems this trend will only increase in the upcoming years.

Gaming the System in Their Favour

Sift pointed to a chief example of these shifts in behaviour. On their parallel media platform, they noted an attempted purchase of a video-game power up for $1 million. It was evident that it is fraudulent, but it shows how these bad actors use new techniques to steal not only resources but also access.

Other Key Takeaways from the Study

The Sift study involves many aspects of the evolving threat landscape in the digital world. One key takeaway was that summer is the dominant season for cyber attacks. Again, it is counterintuitive as it would make the most sense during the winter holiday months. In fact, the most fraudulent day of 2019 was August 11.

Since many people take vacations in the summer, they pay less close attention to their accounts. Or they may have more charges happening, making it easier to disguise fraudulent activity.

Cybercriminals also have no issue working on the weekends. Saturdays had the highest number of fraud attempts compared to any day of the week during any time of the year.

Stop Threat Actors in Their Tracks

Sift concludes that part of this rise is the result of moving to the mobile-first world. It’s never been easier to defraud business with stolen or inauthentic payment methods. Moreover, it is a global phenomenon.

While some countries do have increasing numbers of fraud, it spreads out across all the continents. Even wealthy European countries like Belgium are seeing a rise in these types of criminal activity.

Now is the time for both consumers and businesses to work together to fight fraud. For one, everyone should look into a virtual private network (VPN). It’s essential when buying anything online or checking any of your payment accounts. VPNs encrypt and secure all internet traffic. It reduces the chances of someone intercepting your payment card or other sensitive details. If you are in Europe, connect to a UK VPN server rather than the US one. It gives you the advantage of proximity for faster speeds. Also, secure all digital wallets and payments with biometrics, unique passwords, and advanced security tools.

Finally, report any suspicious activity both to website owners and the appropriate authorities. It’s crucial to stop cybercriminals before they can inflict damage and reap profits from their malicious actions.

The Bottom Line

Online payment fraud may be on the rise. But it is possible to stop it. Start with advanced security tools for all your devices. And stay informed. Keep up with tech news, so you always have the latest information about the threat landscape. Don’t wait until fraudsters victimize you. Start integrating these essential cybersecurity tips now.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay