Most incidents taking place on sites such as Amazon, Google, Apple

Consumer holds out Visa credit card.   (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — According to statistics from Taiwan’s National Credit Card Center, domestic credit card issuers reported NT$629 million (US$22.5 million) in fraud in the first five months of this year, an annual increase of more than 20%.

The soar in fraud coincided with the outbreak of local COVID-19 cases in Taiwan earlier this year, when up to 93% of all transactions took place on foreign-owned e-commerce websites, including Apple, Google, and Amazon, according to a CNA report.

The number of credit card scams that took place online, as opposed to over-the-counter transactions, increased to 98.5% of the total.

The National Credit Card Center stated that criminals often try to break through the security built into online stores to obtain cardholder information. During the pandemic, it has been more difficult for e-commerce stores to identify fraudulent transactions, the center added.

According to recent investigations carried out by the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force, three main risks are on the rise due to the pandemic.

  1. Email and SMS scams

In certain cases, cybercriminals pretending to represent the World Health Organization sent emails or texts asking people to click on links or download attachments. Once the target had clicked, the fraudsters could then obtain their passwords or redirect them to other phony government websites to obtain more personal data.

  1. Fake medical equipment suppliers

Criminals have also claimed to be employees for a charity or business that provides face masks, testing kits, or other medical products. They then request that the user enter their credit card information to pay for the product, which is never delivered.

  1. Increased frequency of swipes

Criminals exploit vulnerabilities in the websites’ defenses and use robots to continuously test and “swipe” credit cards to obtain its owner’s account information.