How to beat the fraudsters on Black Friday

Josh Gunnell, our head of fraud & ID pre-sales offers advice for businesses ahead of the Black Friday sales:

“Black Friday is touted as one of the biggest retail occasions of the year, marking the start of Christmas shopping and kicking off an end-of-year spending spree for many shoppers. But with the British Retail Consortium announcing over 3000 stores have closed in the past four years, it’s no surprise that it’s the online retailers that are striding ahead in the seasonal sales showdown.

“Of course, as the consumers move online, so do the fraudsters – and the holidays bring a host of opportunities as shoppers, often feeling rushed and in a frenzy to bag the best bargains, find themselves unwitting victims, whilst fraudsters can hide amongst atypically high volumes for retailers.

“Many organisations do not have adequate controls to mitigate the increase in fraudulent activity at this time of year, having been focusing on evolving their processes to make the online shopping experience more streamlined, without necessarily increasing their fraud prevention tactics to correlate. Or more acutely, they have an inability to scale up on the finite human and technological resources they have at their disposal to mount an effective set of defences that these peak periods require.

“Online retail giant Amazon is the latest in the list of big names to suffer a data breach this year, and just days before Black Friday, with the company attributing the disclosure of customer names and email addresses to a technical issue.

“Cyber security is in the spotlight during this frenetic few weeks –  if a retailer’s website doesn’t have the correct encryption in place, then processes such as storing credit card details, or simple one-click buying can leave the business exposed and the customer data vulnerable to theft. Plus, the social engineering tactics the fraudsters employ for those on the hunt for a bargain can often be quite inventive – so it’s more important than ever that businesses are educating their customers and alerting them to these threats. 

“Earlier this year CIFAS reported a huge annual increase of 49% in relation to identity fraud within online retail, which will be a key tactic during this period, given the volume of transactions taking place. As fraudsters buy goods online using the victim’s name and bank details, they can often have them delivered to a different address, raising little suspicion at this time of gift-giving.

“Plus, some of the fraudsters will be bold in their approach – reportedly in some cases encouraging victims to take delivery of goods obtained fraudulently using their own details. They sign for the package, because it’s addressed to them, and then hand it over to a fraudster posing to be a courier who delivered it in error. This is just one of the many tricks that will be at play, so businesses need to be doing all they can to help consumers shop safely.

“Traditional fraud prevention methods, such as identity verification, are obviously essential, but businesses should look to complement these with more sophisticated techniques and a multi-layered set of controls to ensure comprehensive strategies that will help keep themselves, and their customers, as safe as possible.”