Criminals are stepping up their attacks on financial services firms during the pandemic, according to a Limra survey.

The survey, which was conductedby by the insurance industry trade group in late March and included 130 of Limra’s member companies, found that within the past 30 days, four in 10 companies reported an uptick in malicious emails and account takeover attempts.

A majority of the companies, however, had anticipated increased fraudulent activity as a result of the crisis and took steps to mitigate it by educating their call-center and back-office employees on potential red flags. Seven in 10 companies have engaged their advisors and field staff about what to look for to identify potential scams and criminal activity.

But Limra said current circumstances pose new risks for financial services companies. Two-thirds of companies believe the shift to remote working and other changes have increased their exposure to fraudulent activity.

Also, the measures many companies instituted to ease customers’ stress opened up more fraud risk for firms, Limra said. Those measures include simplifying steps for customers to manage their financial matters during the pandemic.

Nearly half of respondents have relaxed controls or procedures to help expedite the processing of certain financial transactions to help their customers who may be negatively affected by the economic fallout from pandemic. Also, three in 10 indicated they have modified controls or procedures to take certain transactional requests over the phone, which was not an option previously, Limra noted.

To help its participating companies combat fraud, LL Global, the parent company for Limra, Loma and the Secure Retirement Institute, launched FraudShare six months ago.

The platform provides participating companies:

• Incident and threat indicator data, which allows them to detect and prevent increasingly sophisticated account takeover attacks.

• Industry-level reporting on account takeover attacks to enable them to compare their own account takeover activity with broader industry trends.

• Access to a community of risk management professionals who share their experience and best practices for defending their companies against fraudulent activity.