17 Aboveboard eCommerce Fraud Statistics for 2023
Updated · May 20, 2023
Virtually everyone in the developed world uses the internet, and every four out of five people in Europe and North America admit to shopping online.
Even if that only represents slightly over a quarter of the world’s population, it’s still quite impressive.
eCommerce is set to see immense growth over the next decade or two. Alas, this means fraud will probably flourish, too.
Today, we’ll discuss some key ecommerce fraud statistics to let you know what dangers lie ahead and how to prepare. If you’re in the business of selling—or buying—online, this article is a must-read.
Earnest eCommerce Fraud Facts (Editor’s Choice)
- 27% of people shop online.
- Retail ecommerce sales are set to reach $5.5 trillion in 2022.
- 34% of businesses are investing in anti-fraud solutions.
- eCommerce fraud caused losses of $20 billion in 2021.
- Credit card chargebacks increase by about 20% every year.
- Businesses lose $308 for a $100 chargeback.
- 86% of customers prefer to contact their bank directly instead of the merchant.
- Retail websites are more likely to suffer cyber attacks on the 15th and 30th of every month.
- There was a 178% increase in fraudulent websites during the holiday season in 2021.
eCommerce Fraud 101: The Essentials
First, we’ll take a look at some basic ecommerce statistics, and then we’ll talk about the losses businesses and customers alike suffer due to fraud.
1. Retail ecommerce sales are set to reach $5.5 trillion in 2022.
Currently, this represents about 21% of total retail sales worldwide. By 2025, it’ll likely make up a quarter of the total.
The problem is that ecommerce presents an excellent opportunity for scammers to take advantage of less tech-savvy people—which means that the more popular ecommerce is, the more common online payment fraud will be.
Let’s look at the numbers.
2. About 2.14 billion people shop online.
There are nearly eight billion people in the world, and 27% of them report buying at least one item online. This number has risen dramatically since 2014, when it stood at merely 1.32 billion.
Online shopping is becoming especially popular in North America and Europe, where nearly 80% of adults shop online.
3. Young people are twice as likely to be scammed—but for less.
eCommerce fraud statistics indicate that, contrary to popular belief, it’s young people who are more gullible—at least in the US.
41% of those aged 20-29 and 47% of teenagers who reported fraud in 2020 admitted they lost money. The same is true for less than 20% of those aged 60+.
That said, when older people fall for a scam, they generally end up losing a lot more.
The median amount those in their twenties scammed for was $500, while those in their seventies parted with $800. The ones older than 80?
They lost $1,500.
4. 47% of businesses worldwide experienced fraud in 2019.
(Source: Merchant Savvy)
Payment fraud now affects nearly half of all businesses, making it more widespread than ever. Shockingly—or not—customers are the ones who commit fraud more often, accounting for 35% of all instances.
This is a notable rise from 2018, when the same figure stood at 29%.
The US, in particular, is having problems with this, with more than 80% of establishments experiencing payment fraud. Specifically, small online retailers seem to have it tougher than bigger companies on this front, enduring a 128% increase in fraud occurrences every year.
5. Fraudulent chargebacks cost businesses $40 billion annually.
(Source: Merchant Fraud Journal)
Chargeback protection in ecommerce is crucial to prevent massive losses.
Fraudulent chargebacks cost businesses worldwide roughly $40 billion every year. While this figure includes incidents across all industries, ecommerce is one of the main victims. Why?
Because this kind of scam is most easily done with CNP (Card Not Present) transactions—i.e., when the physical credit card is not available, like when we shop online.
Unsurprisingly, chargeback protection has become quite the selling point for payment gateways like BlueSnap or Neteller. These solutions might seem more expensive than popular alternatives, but may we remind you about those $40 billion?
Types of Retail Frauds
Fraud comes in many shapes and forms, but some are more common than others.
The best way to protect yourself is to know what you’re up against, so we’ve made sure to research all the different ways the average trickster might try to scam you.
Pick up your pen and take notes, because what you’ll read below is the ultimate guide to ecommerce fraud prevention.
6. There are six common types of fraud.
(Source: The Good)
One of the reasons fraud can be hard to combat is the variety of methods wrongdoers use to get what they want. Here are some of the perpetrators’ preferred methods:
- Interception Fraud – When the fraudster intercepts a package before it reaches its final destination.
- Friendly Fraud – Also known in ecommerce as chargeback fraud, it’s when someone buys an item and then files a chargeback with their bank even though they did receive the item.
- Card Testing – When someone makes small purchases to test whether a stolen credit card works, and then makes larger purchases later on.
- Refund Fraud – When someone requests a refund through a different credit card than the original one used for the payment.
- Triangulation Fraud – When someone sets up a storefront and sells goods obtained from another store by paying with stolen credit cards.
- Account Takeover – When a scammer takes over a legitimate customer’s account. This is a form of identity theft in ecommerce.
7. There are three driving forces behind ecommerce fraud.
(Source: Big Commerce)
The first is that it’s easy to do. Buying a stolen credit card from the dark web is much more manageable than pickpocketing a person on the street. Plus, issuing chargeback after chargeback isn’t illegal.
The second is that it’s anonymous. You can hide your identity far more easily on the internet than in a physical store.
The third is that it’s often without consequence. The police generally won’t do a thorough follow up since it’s a pain to track down the perpetrators across countries.
8. There are 23 million stolen cards on the dark web.
In ecommerce, credit card fraud prevention is one of the most important aspects of doing business. But it’s hard to block the use of fraudulent payment methods completely.
There are 23 million stolen credit cards on the dark web that virtually anybody can buy for as little as $1. (The average price is about $10, though.)
Curiously, the vast majority of stolen cards originate from the US and the UK, with the former accounting for nearly two thirds of the global dark web supply.
9. 31% of businesses suffer cyber attacks.
(Source: Business Leader)
Imagine what shopping would be like if physical stores faced thousands of robberies every day.
Well, many ecommerce merchants face thousands of web attacks every day, with the average for 2020 being 206,000 instances a month. And it’s not only online businesses that are the targets of cyberattacks—it’s 26% of charities, too.
These attacks often aim to gain access to users’ credentials, including passwords and credit card data.
Interestingly, the most common (and most effective) method of conducting cyber warfare isn’t through sophisticated hacking tools, but through simple phishing. In fact, 83% of scammers use it.
Why does it work so well?
Because it bypasses a business’ security measures by targeting the end-user directly—and many fall for it.
10. eCommerce fraud caused losses of $20 billion in 2021.
(Source: Payments Dive)
Fraud in ecommerce hurts both honest customers and retailers. Take credit card fraud, for instance.
If someone uses a stolen credit card to buy goods from an online website, it’s the legal owner of the card that will suffer losses initially. Eventually, however, the retailer will likely have to provide a refund, so it’s often the merchants’ bottom line that is most affected.
In 2021, for example, fraud caused businesses to lose $20 billion—an 18% increase over 2020.
Fun fact: Shopify got 300 ethical hackers to poke and prod its site for security issues. At the end of the day, the hackers got a collective $850,000 for their efforts, and Shopify got a well-deserved spot on our best ecommerce site builders list.
11. Businesses lose $308 for a $100 chargeback.
In ecommerce, when a chargeback happens, the burden of proof is on the retailer. In other words, the assumption is that the customer is right and the merchant wrong, so it’s the latter who should prove they didn’t do anything wrong—which can be quite costly.
There are review fees and chargeback fees that the merchant has to cover, and, if hit by too many chargebacks in a short duration, there’s also the possibility of penalties.
Furthermore, in many cases, the merchandise in question will have already reached the customer before he or she files a payment dispute, meaning that the retailer loses the goods, too.
12. 86% of customers prefer to contact their bank directly instead of the merchant.
Since we’re talking about ecommerce chargebacks anyways, let’s look at another interesting statistic.
If a customer is unhappy with a purchase, they can either contact the merchant to fix the issue directly or simply file a chargeback request with their bank. Guess which one’s the more popular option?
That’s right—a staggering 86% of customers will go straight up for a chargeback.
In fact, 58% of clients will never even bother talking to the merchant—28% will, but only after filing a payment dispute.
eCommerce Fraud Trends
There are trends in fashion, and there are trends in ecommerce fraud, too.
For example, fraudsters seem to appreciate certain periods of the year more than others. Similarly, they prefer specific techniques that have proven particularly successful.
At the end of the day, knowledge is power, so you should probably read these last ecommerce fraud stats.
13. 30% of users abandon their carts if they have to re-enter credit card info.
Just as websites often require us to re-enter our passwords when making changes to our accounts, they often ask us to re-enter our credit card or shipping info when making a purchase, too.
Unfortunately, up to 30% of customers straight up abandon their carts when this happens.
Now, some shopping cart providers offer automatic cart recovery, which may up your chances of making a sale—but, of course, only if you can persuade your customers to trust you with their credit card information (again).
14. Credit card fraud soared by 44.7% in 2020.
(Source: The Ascent)
By this point, it’s safe to say that credit card fraud in ecommerce is a critical issue for any online merchant.
Let’s put it this way: In 2020, there were 393,207 reports concerning card fraud in the US, making it the second most common form of identity theft in the country.
In fact, it’d be the first (as it traditionally has), but ‘government benefits fraud’ earnt the first spot that year because of the stimulus checks issued to deal with the pandemic.
Fun fact: Digital wallets are the most popular payment method for online purchases. Credit and debit cards come in second place, with a combined 35% share of all payments.
15. Credit card chargebacks increase by about 20% every year.
Anybody in ecommerce faces chargeback scams all the time. It’s one of the most common types of fraud, and virtually anybody can do it. As of 2022, there are approximately 33 million chargeback fraud episodes annually.
While many businesses have started blacklisting credit cards that have been used to issue a chargeback, this has hardly served as a deterrent. In fact, chargeback rates have gone up another 20% this year.
Other than losing money, there’s another less obvious problem for merchants here—if a single entity is hit with too many chargebacks, banks might stop working with it.
16. There was a 178% increase in fraudulent websites during the holiday season in 2021.
(Source: Global Trade Mag)
Online shopping fraud saw a 178% spike from October to December 2021, an intense period for shoppers preparing for the holidays.
Scammers set up websites that are perfect copies of popular ecommerce platforms (like Amazon) in an attempt to acquire consumers’ credit card information. Then, they use it to make purchases themselves.
Naturally, this hurts both shoppers and businesses as it makes people less likely to trust estores. Next time you’re buying Christmas gifts online, make sure to double-check you’re on a legitimate website.
Fun fact: Retail websites are more likely to suffer cyber attacks on the 15th and 30th every month, sometimes up to 75,000 in a day. This is likely because many people receive their paychecks on those days and go on an online shopping spree, arousing fraudsters’ interest.
17. Only 34% of businesses are investing in anti-fraud solutions.
Recent ecommerce fraud stats suggest something quite weird. Pay close attention to the following numbers.
Nearly 60% of businesses intend to invest in customer experience software and other digital innovations for their mobile apps. (That makes sense.)
42% of companies admit that fraud slows their ability to expand their digital footprint. (That also makes sense.)
Yet, only a meager 34% of businesses say they’re working on fraud prevention solutions. (That doesn’t make much sense.)
Considering the sheer amount of frauds we just talked about, you’d be justified for feeling that way.
However, you needn’t fear. While the billions of dollars lost to fraud every year do look scary, they’re but a drop in the ocean, given that online retailing is now worth trillions.
Furthermore, as long as you don’t fall for phishing, you’re most likely going to be perfectly fine.
And if you do end up losing money, a chargeback might help you get it back—just don’t abuse the functionality.
This concludes our collection of ecommerce fraud statistics. We at Web Tribunal hope next time you’re buying a new TV or doing your groceries online, you’ll be more careful—but also more confident in your ability to stay safe online.
Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.