TransUnion enhances document verification solution as new research finds identity fraud at center of many digital COVID-19 scams

Product can verify an identity with a selfie

CHICAGO, IL (July 30, 2020) — New research from TransUnion’s (NYSE: TRU) Consumer Financial Hardship studies found that phishing is the top digital fraud scheme worldwide related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among consumers reporting being targeted with digital COVID-19 schemes globally, 27% said they were hit with pandemic-themed phishing scams. To help prevent identity fraud that can result from phishing, TransUnion announced today new enhancements to its Document Verification solution.

“From the impacts of phishing and other well documented COVID-19 scams like unemployment fraud, it’s clear that fraudsters have the data and increasing opportunities to create synthetic identities and utilize stolen identities,” said Shai Cohen, senior vice president of Global Fraud & Identity Solutions at TransUnion. “Identity fraud is a primary way fraudsters leverage stolen consumer data from phishing and other social engineering schemes. It can have long-term impacts for consumers such as the compromise of multiple online accounts and bringing down credit scores, which we anticipate will increase during pandemic reconstruction.”

To better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on consumers, TransUnion surveyed 7,384 adults in Canada, Colombia, Hong Kong, South Africa, the U.K., and the U.S. between June 30 and July 6, 2020. It asked the consumers if they had been targeted by digital COVID-19 fraud and if so, which digital fraud scheme(s) related to COVID-19 were they targeted with. Globally, 32% said they had been targeted by digital fraud related to COVID-19 with the below being the top types of COVID-19 fraud they faced:

Top Global Online COVID-19 Scams Targeting Consumers

Rankings Percentage Hit by Scheme
Among Those Targeted by Digital COVID-19 Fraud
Phishing 27%
Third-party seller scams on legitimate online retail websites 21%
Charity and fundraising scam 19%
Unemployment scam 18%
Fraudulent COVID-19 vaccines, cures, tests, and PPE 15%
Fake insurance 15%
Shipping fraud 14%
Identity theft 14%
Stolen credit card or fraudulent charges 13%
Stimulus check scam 12%
Someone changing your personal or account information via a call center 12%
Account taken over 11%


Online COVID-19 Scams Targeting Consumers by Country

Country Top Fraud Type Percent Targeted by All Digital COVID-19 Fraud
Canada Phishing 30%
Colombia Third-party seller scams on legitimate online retail websites 25%
Hong Kong Phishing 37%
South Africa Unemployment scam 38%
U.K. Phishing 30%
U.S. Phishing 31%


“Although the schemes may vary by country, a new approach to identity verification that supplements traditional authentication methods is needed to defend against their impact,” said Cohen. “The key is creating a friction-right experience where consumers are confident they are dealing with a legitimate organization or business.”

TransUnion Enhancement to Combat Identity Fraud

With fake identities increasingly available through phishing attacks and other methods, TransUnion recently expanded the global reach of its Document Verification solution. Document Verification confirms a consumer’s identity in faceless and in-person channels by validating a government-issued identification document like a passport or driver’s license.

“With successful phishing attacks that have increased during the pandemic, data breaches and social media sharing, consumers should assume their data is on the dark web,” said Bala Kumar, vice president of product management, Global Fraud & Identity Solutions at TransUnion. “Despite these threats, consumers expect that organizations will protect their identities, and enable secure but still convenient digital experiences. TransUnion’s Document Verification solution provides comprehensive consumer friendly identity verification by triangulating the validity of the document, danger of the device used to capture the document and risk associated with the identity on the document.”

Document Verification is part of IDVision® with iovation®, TransUnion’s flagship identity verification, consumer authentication and fraud prevention solution suite which unites personal and digital data into one of the most comprehensive data identity platforms in the world. As part of the IDVision with iovation suite, Document Verification adds strong verification of government IDs to existing capabilities that can validate a consumer by leveraging TransUnion’s comprehensive intelligence about consumer records, device behavior, and if fraud has previously been associated with a person or device.

“Given the digital transformation that’s been accelerated by the recent pandemic, it’s more important than ever to secure trust in faceless channels with a simple consumer experience by reducing the need for businesses to manually review transactions,” said Shirley Inscoe, senior analyst at technology analyst firm Aite Group.

TransUnion’s Document Verification solution verifies consumers who submit a picture of a government-issued identification document. The solution provides organizations additional confirmation of a consumer identity during account origination and subsequent high-risk transactions.

Document Verification ensures that a government issued identification is genuine by:

  • Validating the expiration date, and if the identification document is fake, lost, stolen or tampered with
  • Confirming the personally identifiable information (PII) in the identification document matches against TransUnion’s data identity of the consumer like an address and flagging any discrepancies
  • Enabling real-time fraud risk checks on the device used to capture the document
  • In some markets, verifying an ID matches against a government’s database of issued IDs.

The solution also provides an optional feature that compares a selfie the consumer captures to the photo on their identification document. Document Verification can be deployed via TransUnion hosted pages enabling rapid deployment which is critical with the accelerated shift to digital channels.

For more details about TransUnion’s Document Verification solution, go here. To download TransUnion’s Consumer Hardship Studies, go here. For more details around TransUnion’s digital fraud findings during the COVID-19 pandemic, go here.

About TransUnion

TransUnion is a global information and insights company with over 12,000 associates operating in more than 30 countries. We make trust possible by ensuring each person is reliably represented in the marketplace. We do this with a Tru™ picture of each person: an actionable view of consumers, stewarded with care. Through our acquisitions and technology investments we have developed innovative solutions that extend beyond our strong foundation in core credit into areas such as marketing, fraud, risk and advanced analytics. As a result, consumers and businesses can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for Good®—and it leads to economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for millions of people around the world.


Andrea Corry
Account Director
PenVine Inc.

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