Nearly Three Quarters of Hong Kong Consumers Admit They Are Concerned About Falling Victim to Fraud This Festive Season
However, it appears most retailers reduce fraud controls to priortise shopping volume
TransUnion (NYSE: TRU) released new findings today highlighting e-commerce fraud trends that occurred during the start of the 2023 holiday shopping season. For Hong Kong, this includes “11/11” and the Black Friday period – from the Thursday before Black Friday, to Cyber Monday. With retailers likely trying to support greater shopping volume by reducing potential friction caused by fraud controls, a decrease in the suspected fraud rate was observed despite nearly three quarters of Hong Kong consumers stating they are worried about falling victim to digital fraud during this festive season.
Based on proprietary insights from TransUnion’s global device risk consortium, 1.0% of e-commerce transactions during that holiday period were suspected to be fraudulent when the consumer transacted from Hong Kong, compared to 6.0% and 6.9% during the same holiday period in 2022 and 2021. Moreover, the average number of suspected e-commerce fraud attempts on any given day within that holiday period when the consumer was located in Hong Kong during the transaction was 9.4% lower than the same period in 2022 and 22.5% lower than the rest of 2023 (1 January 2023 to 22 November 2023, not including 11 November 2023). 
The Percentage of Suspected E-Commerce Fraud in Hong Kong during 11/11 and the Black Friday Weekend, Compared to the Rest of the Year
11/11 and Black Friday weekend 2023
All 2023 prior to 23 November 2023
11/11 and Black Friday weekend 2022
11/11 and Black Friday weekend 2021
* Includes Nov. 11 for Hong Kong
The study also revealed the suspected e-commerce fraud rate for each day in the holiday shopping period for transactions where the consumer is in Hong Kong during the transaction. Unlike last year when the suspected digital fraud rate was highest on the Thursday before Black Friday at 9.3%, this year the rate was the highest on the Sunday before Cyber Monday at 2.0%.
The Suspected Digital Fraud Rate Varies for Each Day of the 2023 Holiday Shopping Period
Transactions in Hong Kong
|Saturday, 11 November
|Thursday, 23 November
|Friday, 24 November (Black Friday)
|Saturday, 25 November
|Sunday, 26 November
|Monday, 27 November (Cyber Monday)
“Just as the holiday season drives consumers online to begin shopping for gifts for their loved ones, so does it become a destination for fraudsters seeking to take advantage of this time for their financial gain,” said Jerry Ying, chief product officer at TransUnion Asia Pacific. “Anecdotally, we hear that payment card issuers tend to use a different model during holiday shopping periods to allow more authorisations to complete quickly. It seems that a similar tactic is being used by retailers concerned that any friction may drive consumers away, reflecting the elevated competition to ensure greater shopping volume.”
Consumers express concern this holiday season
The unusual decrease of suspected digital fraud during the traditional busiest days of the holiday shopping season contrasts with consumers’ continued concern about being victimised during this popular shopping period. TransUnion’s Q4 2023 Hong Kong Consumer Pulse Study found that most Hong Kong consumers (72%), are extremely, very or moderately concerned with being victimised by online fraud this holiday season — an increase of 18% from 61% in 2022.
These consumer concerns are indeed valid. Criminal organisations look forward to this period of lax fraud controls knowing that guards are lowered, they commit account takeovers to empty loyalty points programmes and make purchases using the hijacked customer’s existing payment wallet, for example. For retailers that allow guest checkouts, fraudsters will transact using stolen payment cards they have purchased from the dark web or have previously harvested from other data breach attacks.
While online sales numbers for retailers are now known, retailers will have to wait and hope that fraud losses do not pile up. The challenge is that they would not know for some time; merchants will have to wait for an uptick in chargebacks, returns, and customer disputes before that becomes clear.
As part of this analysis, TransUnion also determined the top indicators of fraudulent e-commerce transactions during the holiday shopping season globally. This year, transactions per IP (triggered with an unusual volume of activity from a single Internet Protocol [IP] address to a customer’s site in a short time) and transactions per device (triggered with an unusual volume of activity from a single device to a customer’s site in a short time period) were the leading indicators for potential fraud attempts.
“The holidays mark the biggest shopping season of the year for retailers, but equipping themselves with the proper tools to detect fraud at the first warning sign is a year-round priority. Online retailers must ensure that consumers shopping their sites are at the same time protected from fraud in the most seamless and friction-right way possible anywhere, anytime,” said Ying. “A critical way to minimise fraudulent transactions while at the same time protecting legitimate ones involves implementing holistic fraud solutions that can verify customer identity and authenticity at the very beginning of a transaction, including both account creation and login.”
TransUnion came to its conclusions primarily based on intelligence from its identity and fraud product suite, TransUnion TruValidate™, which helps secure trust across channels and delivers efficient consumer experiences. The rate or percentage of suspected digital fraud attempts reflect interactions which TransUnion customers either denied in real time due to fraudulent indicators or determined to be fraudulent after a manual review process—compared to all transactions it assessed for fraud.
To find out how this data varies by select countries or regions and more, TransUnion’s holiday fraud insights can be found here.