Suspected Fraudulent E-commerce Transactions 117% Higher in the UK During the Holidays Compared to Rest of Year

TransUnion, a global information and insights company and one of the UK’s leading credit reference agencies, has released new data on e-commerce fraud trends in the UK during the early 2023 festive season.

Drawing on insights from TransUnion's global device risk consortium, the analysis reviews e-commerce transactions throughout the Cyber Five days, spanning from the Thursday before Black Friday, 23 November to Cyber Monday, 27 November 2023. For consumers located in the UK when transacting, the average number of suspected e-commerce fraud attempts on any given day during the 2023 Cyber Five days was 117% higher than the rest of the year.

“As many purchase gifts online for their friends and loved ones during the run up to the festive break, there is an increased risk of fraudsters targeting vulnerable consumers for their financial gain,” said Kelli Fielding, chief product officer at TransUnion in the UK. “It is critical that online retailers protect consumers seeking the best deals and financial organisations are using all the tools available to stop fraudsters where they can, by employing holistic fraud solutions that verify customer identity and authenticity at the beginning on transactions.”

The Percentage of Suspected E-Commerce Fraud during the Cyber Five vs. Overall



Cyber Five 2023 (23 – 27 Nov.)

All 2023 prior to 23 Nov.

Cyber Five 2022 (24 – 28 Nov.)



Cyber Five 2021 (25 – 29 Nov.)










The analysis revealed the average percentage of suspected digital fraud attempts on any given day around Black Friday. TransUnion found UK customers flagged 1.52% of e-commerce transactions as potentially fraudulent, peaking on Black Friday, when suspected digital fraud rate reached 1.76%.

“While the data suggests that there was an uptick in suspected fraudulent transactions – particularly in relation to previous years – this may also be a result of stricter rules and lower risk appetite being applied by retailers during this period,” said Chad Reimers, general manager of fraud and ID at TransUnion in the UK. “Retailers may have reflected on past years’ activity and introduced elements of friction for transactions deemed riskier.”

The Suspected Digital Fraud Rate Varies for Each Day of the 2023 Holiday Shopping Weekend


Transactions in the UK

Thursday, 23 Nov.


Friday, 24 Nov.


Saturday, 25 Nov.


Sunday, 26 Nov.


Monday, 27 Nov.


Consumer concern about being a victim of fraud

In parallel to the rise of suspected digital fraud, consumers are expressing growing concern about potential victimisation during the traditional peak period of seasonal shopping. TransUnion’s Q4 2023 Consumer Pulse studyi found that most UK consumers (59%) are extremely, very or moderately concerned with falling victim to online fraud this festive season – an increase from 52% in 2022.

“The winter holidays signify the peak shopping season for retailers, but minimising digital fraud should remain a priority year-round as we see acceleration to digital channels continue,” Chad Reimers added. “Retailers need to be proactive when it comes to fraud prevention, by arming themselves with the appropriate tools to protect consumers, while offering them a seamless shopping experience in the most friction-right way possible. We are seeing practical examples of this through the multi-layering of risk decisioning strategies during consumer onboarding, leveraging multiple identity, digital, and device signals.”

TransUnion reached its conclusions based on intelligence from its identity and fraud product suite, TruValidate™. The rate of suspected digital fraud attempts reflects interactions which TransUnion customers either denied in real time due to fraud indicators or identified as fraudulent after manual review, compared to all assessed transactions.

To find out how this data varies by select countries and more, TransUnion’s holiday fraud insights can be found here.

To find out more about TransUnion’s product and solutions, visit www.transunion.co.uk.


 i TransUnion’s Q4 2023 Consumer Pulse study which is based on a survey of 998 adults in the UK conducted 25 Sept.–3 Oct. 2023