Scammers are relentless – but experts say data is your best friend

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The threat of fraud is ever-present and growing. Organizations lose around 5% of their annual revenues to fraud, and many of them don't take sufficient proactive measures. It's notable that only 56% of organizations conduct investigations of even their worst incidents. That statistic is based on the 2020 ACFE Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse. Even fewer reported these incidents to their board.

Besides the damage to business revenue, fraudsters also cause damage at a highly personal level. They’re not shy about using a pandemic to try and convince people to click on malicious links or divulge private data. During the holiday season, things get worse. For example, cases of charity scams at Christmas are reported like clockwork.

A recent live chat on Twitter featuring experts from SAS (#SASChat) put the spotlight on some of the emotions scammers target, the tactics used to take advantage of them, and the ways people can mitigate those threats.

Getting into your feelings

Dangerous COVID variants continue to exhaust an already exhausted population that's desperately seeking some kind of escape or relief. Knowing this, fraudsters have taken advantage of the health crisis from nearly every possible angle.

From fake coronavirus heat maps to fraudulent unemployment claims, criminals have faced little resistance while using a toxic mix of tried-and-true tactics to deceive people at their most vulnerable. Even romance scams have seen an increase as more people turn to apps to find meaningful connections while being isolated at home.

As experts confirmed during the #SASChat, business email compromises spiked when remote work became the new norm. SMS-based push notifications sending people to fake vaccine registration pages or other "resources" exploded in popularity among scammers, too.

Related: 5 types of fraud and how analytics can help

"I am constantly telling family and friends to check the address from the sender," tweeted Ellen Joyner Roberson, Global Marketing Director for Fraud and Security Intelligence Solutions at SAS.

Scammers, she added, are abusing social media platforms to reach younger users who are more willing to share personal data. And organizations that are just now embarking on their digital transformation journey are discovering the challenges that come with profiling their customers online. According to Diana Rothfuss, Global Marketing Lead for Fraud and Financial Crimes at SAS, many of those organizations are "letting more of the bad guys in."

Show me the data

The past year has been a strong stress test for anti-fraud systems. That's why experts suggest organizations review their systems’ models and find ways to improve reporting and response times.

Monitoring data remains the best way to spot anomalies early and stop potential fraud in its tracks. Anti-fraud systems with rules based on demographics can greatly improve visibility into those anomalies. Want to keep the topic of fraud scams top of mind? One way organizations can accomplish this is by incorporating regular education and awareness training.

#SASChat highlights

Click 'Next' at the top of the page to see what people on Twitter said during our recent #SASChat

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Alex Coop

Senior Communications Specialist

Alex Coop is a news junkie and basketball enthusiast who did a bunch of community reporting across Canada before joining the SAS marketing team.

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