Breach, Data Security, Identity

#Vaxed: Vaccination sharing latest example for why young adults among the most vulnerable to fraud

Dr. Anthony Fauci kicks off the nation’s vaccination effort late last year. Today’s columnist, Kimberly Sutherland of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, points out that as more people get vaccinated, young adults and seniors are most susceptible to identity theft scams related to vaccines and public displays of vaccination cards.

As more and more Americans become vaccinated for COVID-19, I’ve seen a flurry of pictures, mostly from young adults, posting photos of themselves with their vaccine cards. Many try to use their finger to cover a portion of the personal information, but most don’t realize that there’s far more sensitive data on the vaccination card, including their full name, date of birth, and administration location.

Transaction data analysis from the second half of 2020 in a recent report by LexisNexis Risk Solutions shows that those 25 and under are most vulnerable to fraud. The oldest age group is the second most vulnerable and loses the most money. The stark risk at both ends of the age spectrum emphasizes the importance for companies to protect both new-to-digital and vulnerable customers when transacting online in 2021. 

Many new-to-digital customers went online for the first time because of the COVID-19 shutdown. Many went online to find new ways to connect with friends and family, pay bills, shop for daily necessities and seek entertainment alternatives as human interaction was no longer an option. In fact, there was a 10% growth in online transactions among the under 25 age group.

We often think of young adults as highly tech-savvy. Unfortunately, some young adults sometimes too relaxed about sharing data online, making them more susceptible to identity theft. New account registrations often require users to share their full name, address, date of birth, and contact information, such as email address or phone number. New account creations for media companies like streaming services, gaming and gambling sites and apps have a higher attack rate than any other industry according to our report. We know that these are entertainment entities commonly used by the under 25 age group and fraudsters use them to mass test stolen identity data.

The over 75 age group, sometimes referred to as the silent generation, generally has less familiarity with the latest digital technologies and therefore are often more susceptible to scams and phishing attempts. Although those under 25 are the most vulnerable to fraud attacks, the average fraud loss per customer increases progressively with age, likely influenced by larger disposable incomes later in life.

Fraudsters are opportunists. They look for the easiest targets. The paradox of why fraudsters choose to target the younger age group in proportionally higher volumes may stem from the economic reality that higher success rates can offset the lower monetary gains.

So, what can we do?

Businesses need to educate their customers about the characteristics of fraud attacks. They can help ensure that the online customer journey protects against attacks with relevant and timely online messaging and awareness campaigns. Cybercriminals are masters of disguise and always looking out for new targets. They have found them in the under 25 and 75+ populations. Businesses need to stay aware of this and protect their most vulnerable users.

Businesses should not overly rely on consumer education to address fraud attacks; it’s a challenging responsibility and usually not very effective. Looking ahead, we see businesses continuing to merge their online and in-person services and innovating to meet increasingly varied consumer usage expectations. Fraud prevention strategies must keep pace with this evolution, as fraudsters continue to prey on omnichannel strategies, sending deceptive communications about online purchases, shipping updates and even financial and healthcare activity in hot demand, such as vaccination availability.

There’s no doubt that 2020 brought about huge change. The light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel shows opportunity for businesses to add in a layered defense solution. Uniting the top digital identity intelligence with physical identity solutions can become the game changer that organizations need to lessen the unpredictable tides of fraud.

And for users? They can all start by increasing their sensitivity to sharing personal data and maybe not posting photos of their vaccination cards.

Kimberly Sutherland, vice president, fraud and identity strategy, LexisNexis Risk Solutions

Kimberly Sutherland

Kimberly Sutherland, Vice President of Fraud and Identity Strategy at LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, leads the Americas commercial market strategy for consumer fraud analytics, identity verification, authentication and fraud investigations.

With more than 20 years of experience leading business strategy and product management, Kim’s responsibilities have spanned from building global professional services practices to developing cross-industry best practices and technical standards.

Kim is vice chair of the Open Identity Exchange and serves on the board of Women in Identity. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Otterbein University.

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