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Fraud: The digital epidemic of our time

April 3, 2023

Telesign Team
An illustration of a woman surrounded by digital tools.

Table of Contents

Mobile World Congress. It’s the pinnacle of mobile technology where leading brands, experts, and innovators explore the latest trends, technologies, and ideas that are shaping the future of business. From product launches and keynote speeches to immersive exhibits and expert discussions, Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2023 offered an insider’s look into how today’s technology is primed to tackle tomorrow’s challenges.

But not every session at MWC was future-focused. Today, business leaders and consumers alike are experiencing a digital epidemic. Last year alone, nearly 5% of the global GDP was lost to fraud. That’s a $2 trillion loss that continues to snowball. Business leaders need to act today while preparing for tomorrow.

To equip MWC attendees with actionable fraud prevention strategies and to share visions for the future of digital identity, I participated in a panel discussion, Breaking Down Fraud. Joining me on stage was a diverse group of experts, including:

  • Blair Cohen, CEO of Authentic ID
  • Paul Tang, Member of the European Parliament
  • Sulabh Agarwal, Global Payments Lead, Accenture
  • Tamzin Booth, Partner, Brunswick Group & moderator

The discussion covered everything from multilayered fraud defense and the power of mobile identity, to the financial consequences and the future of digital identity, including the emerging concept of self-sovereign identity. In this blog post, I’ll recap some of the key themes from our discussion.

Why fraud continues to rise and the importance of a multilayered fraud defense

Despite the best efforts of businesses and technology vendors, fraudsters continue to find new ways to exploit vulnerabilities and steal billions of dollars every year. It’s a game of whack-a-mole, and the fraudsters are winning. In fact, 2021 was the first time the number of successful fraudulent attacks outnumbered those prevented.

Why are fraudsters so effective?

In today’s digital world, there are more people, devices, transactions, and interactions happening online than ever before. For example, on your phone, there’s screen after screen of applications—each with an individual login, different sets of data, and vulnerabilities fraudsters can exploit.

A microscope over people.

Consumers are an easy target. We reuse passwords, click on suspicious links, and overshare online. But even with the best security stack, businesses and consumers are still at risk.

What’s the best fraud defense?

Attack vectors are endless. Identity theft, chargebacks, communication fraud, promotion abuse, brute force attacks, account takeover, and countless more—there’s not a single vendor that can defend against everything. Unlike any other industry, the fraud prevention sector is made up of partners, alliances, and complementary solutions. To get one step ahead of fraudsters, businesses need to build a comprehensive, multi-layered fraud stack. Many platforms, vendors, and data sources are effective alone, but the true power of the industry is unlocked when they’re used in tandem. It truly is a 1+1=3 mindset. 

The power of mobile identity

The phone number and the data it possesses are powerful. To prove its utility, MIT published an eye-opening study, which concluded: with four random data points, mobile carriers could identify 95% of the population. While scary, the MIT study demonstrates the power of mobile data. It should be an essential element in every fraud stack. With a range of use cases, mobile identity can help businesses solve many of their pressing challenges—identity proofing, user authentication, account takeovers, and more.

How Telesign’s mobile identity fights fraud

Telesign’s mobile identity data provides an effective defense against fraud. Using just a phone number, Telesign can help determine whether a user is fraudulent and prevent bots and fake users from creating new accounts. We strengthen KYC and user risk profiling by layering contact and subscriber status into sign-up flows. We also incorporate phone attributes like SIM Swap, Porting History, Number Deactivation, and Call Forwarding detection to prevent one-time passcodes from being intercepted and accounts from being taken over.

At every stage of the customer journey, mobile identity data plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety of businesses and their customers. With Telesign’s mobile identity data, businesses can fight fraud with confidence, knowing that they have the necessary tools and technologies to protect their enterprise and their customers’ accounts.

*The MWC recap continues in part two.