21 Days of Christmas | Staying safe online during the holidays with Forter

The holiday season brings with it cosy winter nights, festive decorations, cheer, and flurries in the form of weather forecasts and online shopping activity. Shoppers flock in record numbers to retailers both in-store and online during November and December, and 2018 is expected to be bigger than ever. But with increased online activity comes increased fraud, and both shoppers and retailers must do all they can to stay safe over Christmas, says Michael Reitblat, CEO and Co-Founder of Forter.

With increased online shopping activity there is often an increase of online payment fraud. While fraudsters might not work overtime during the holidays (even they need a holiday break), they are more likely to slip through the cracks as good holiday traffic overwhelms retailers’ fraud prevention systems. The more a retailer cares about excellent customer experience on their site — and luxury merchants care a lot — the greater the challenge of accurately identifying fraud so that only bad transactions are blocked.

What does this mean for online shoppers and retailers? How can each stay safe online, keeping fraudsters from cashing in during peak season?

Tips for Shoppers

Consumers now have a variety of options when choosing how to shop. Even luxury goods are becoming popular items to shop for online, especially during the holidays when shopping time is tight. From tablets and mobile devices, to laptops and smart-TVs, shoppers are only one-click or touch away from checkout. Unfortunately, this also means that fraudsters have more avenues than ever before by which to perpetrate online fraud while you shop.

“Here, phish-y, phish-y, phish-y”: Beware of clicking on e-mails with offers that look too good to be true. They usually are. “Phishing” scams have grown in popularity in recent years, whereby customers are tricked into entering their data into a fake version of a site or app. Fraudsters can then harvest these private details and exploit the contents of the accounts. Luxury shoppers need to be especially careful since fraudsters know they can afford valuable merchandise, making them a more appealing target.

Keep it secure: Fraudsters can easily breach insecure networks, like public WiFi, so be careful using open networks to do your online shopping. These can be breached and could potentially expose your private data. A safer bet would be to shop from your secure home or work network using connections that are trusted and private.

There’s an app for that: Similar to open networks, free apps which have not been properly vetted could lead to private data being exposed. Make sure to only download apps from trusted sources (Google Play or Apple’s App Store), and check the reviews and ratings to ensure app safety.

“S” is for “Secure”: When visiting sites online, check to make sure that you are shopping on secure sites only. Ensure that any site you enter your credit card details on has SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. You will be able to recognize this from the website prefix, it will read HTTPS, instead of just HTTP.

Tips for Retailers

Retailers will be flooded with holiday traffic in the coming weeks, with activity emanating from both good and bad actors. Increased activity on retailers’ online stores will translate to overworked risk and fraud teams and overloaded manual review queues. As such, retailers will need to properly prepare for the holiday season by ensuring that their fraud prevention systems are efficient, effective, and most importantly, scalable. It’s imperative that you are able to block fraud without aggravating good customers.

Fraud prevention as tailored as your merchandise: In order to find the fraud solution best suited for your business, retailers should partner with a fraud prevention company that offers more than a “one-size-fits-all” system. Retailers need a solution that is nuanced enough to temper and address the fraud pain points that most ail your specific business.

Precision you can count on: Accuracy is vital in fraud prevention. You wouldn’t want to turn away good and loyal customers based on subjective fraud-rules. This can deteriorate brand loyalty and make customers turn elsewhere for their product needs — risks to which luxury retailers are especially sensitive. Make sure the solution you choose declines only the fraudsters, not legitimate customers.

Scale up your defenses: The holiday season means an uptick in online activity. Rules-based systems and old-school fraud detection simply won’t cut it during peak seasons. Review queues can get clogged and fraud can thereby slip under the radar, potentially cutting into holiday revenue. Make sure to partner with a scalable fraud solution, one that can safeguard from fraud during peak seasons and every day in between.

Good customers should glide through to checkout: Fraud prevention shouldn’t create friction in your customers’ journeys. Good customers should continue to enjoy the seamless shopping to which they are accustomed, which is all part of the luxury experience. Through advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, fraud prevention can (and should) be fully automated — no more manual reviews necessary. Look for a fully automated fraud solution that allows for real-time decisions, thereby empowering your manual review teams to shift from crisis management, to a more refined and intelligent work mode.

The holidays can continue to be “merry and bright” for shoppers and retailers alike if proper precautions are taken to thwart fraudsters. Shoppers can take actions to ensure that they better understand the kinds of online fraud that exist, and how to better care for their private and personal data. In light of the large number of data breaches in recent months, effectively exposing millions of consumers’ personal information, holiday shoppers want assurances that their data will be protected and that fraudsters will not be able to take advantage of weak or vulnerable systems. As such, retailers must also do their part to protect their platforms. Fraud rates continue to be on the rise, increasing over the past year by 13%, and showing no signs of abating.

To keep your holidays happy, get your fraud prevention plan in place as soon as possible, for both your personal shopping and your business. Your solution should scale, accommodate the unique needs of luxury shopping, and protect against fraud throughout the customer journey.