Combatting holiday fraud

November 22, 2021

The holidays are fast approaching and while this is typically a joyous time filled with getting together with family and friends, there is a little-known fact that lurks around as well. The holiday season is one that is also filled with a tremendous increase in fraud attacks and scams that fraudsters use to take advantage of the increased amount of spending from the average consumer. This, coupled with the newly seen rise in online and digital payment methods, has the potential to have a large impact on holiday shoppers. For example, in an article published last year during the holidays, Experian stated that “Nearly one quarter—24%—of survey respondents reported being a victim of identity theft or fraud during the holidays, according to Experian's survey. Compared with last year's survey, that number has doubled from 12%.” While consumers have become more wary of fraud as a result of the pandemic, a report from, showed that “Just 43 percent of consumers said they would double-check Black Friday or Cyber Monday emails before attempting to use them.”

How can consumers protect themselves from cyber-attacks?

The pandemic forced shoppers to complete their holiday purchases last year online in greater quantities than ever before. This trend is expected to continue this year, and the new digital-first retail environment that we now live in also brought on unprecedented levels of fraud, including chargeback abuse and item-not-received fraud, and retailers are struggling to counter it.

Financial institutions, merchants and consumers need to work together to create a culture of security empowerment. This means that the organizations responsible for securing customer data need to proactively educate their customers on what we often call “proper cyber-hygiene”. This includes instructing customers to:

  • Use strong, complex passwords, not reusing passwords
  • Don’t overshare on social media
  • Use multi-factor authentication
  • Take advantage of mobile account controls
  • Actively monitor account activity
  • Lockdown credit reports

In addition, this means educating customers on what type of personal data you will request and under what situations, along with clearly showing them the appropriate path to follow in the event of fraud attack.

Fraud technologies can help in the fight

Fraud technology providers such as FIS are focused on solutions that remove sensitive personal data from the authentication and shopping process, such as leveraging biometrics on a mobile device. We are seeing more predictive, AI based models focused on screening for stolen and synthetic identities. Call centers are even adjusting with the integration of “step up authentication” capabilities that allow for additional validation of inbound callers through a One-Time Passcode. Specifically, at FIS, we launched a Digital Risk Protection platform for proactive monitoring of the dark web and social media where fraudsters trade sensitive account and personal data. Together, these types of solutions can help more holistically protect consumer assets and maintain their confidence in their shopping experience.

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