As the leaves turn yellow and then brown, merchants worldwide start preparing for the biggest events of online commerce – Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which started in the United States in 1952 and have been adopted by most of the world in recent decades.
But what about Black Friday fraud? Unfortunately, too much can go wrong amid the shopping excitement. Let’s take a closer look.
Black Friday & Cyber Monday Fraud Trends
The two shopping events broke all previous records in recent years – partly due to the pandemic. In 2021, 154.5 million people purchased products and services that reached $8.9 billion in value, and order values increased by 9% in the United States alone.
While it’s hard to accurately estimate how much it will increase in 2022, merchants still have to compete with bigger and better deals for consumers who are now accustomed to buying things online in a frictionless manner.
Unfortunately, the fraudsters also know how big of an event Black Friday has become for shoppers worldwide – as well as Cyber Monday and the period that leads up to the December holidays.
Be proactive about stopping fraud by partnering up with SEON to leverage its machine learning modules, unique digital footprint intelligence and granular risk scoring.
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From the viewpoint of a cybercriminal, they are perfect opportunities to hide in the crowd and defraud consumers, as well as businesses, taking advantage of the atmosphere of excitement and urgency that these special retail days help create.
For merchants, a heavy increase in transaction volumes will mean that your customer service and fraud management teams will be swamped, leaving less time to manually review orders.
Meanwhile, consumers may be more likely to fall for scams over this period. Lloyd’s Banking Group reports that one in four consumers are targeted by scammers at this time of the year.
Importantly, this should also be a concern to merchants, as any stolen credit and debit cards being successfully used at your shop are likely to result in chargebacks, affecting both your bottom line and your relationship with payment processors and banks. Be these fraudulent chargeback requests or legitimate, due to a card being stolen by a criminal, they affect your business in the same ways.
And you will always want to avoid them too.
With that in mind, here are some essential survival tips you can use to brace for impact – and make it out safe on the other end.
Ways to Protect Your Business on Black Friday & Cyber Monday in 2022
1. Notify All Teams of Upcoming Deals and Projected Volume Increase
Too often the operations teams are left out of the loop. Deals and bonuses will attract more customers, so give a heads up to your risk team, giving them time to think in advance. In fact, make sure you do the same with sales and customer support, too.
What are the risks involved? How will someone try to abuse Cyber Monday and Black Friday? The people on the frontline are best qualified to come up with ideas. Be especially attentive to the experience of those who have seen this event through at your company before. They may have identified trends and patterns that repeat themselves this year.
Similarly, if you have a ballpark estimation of the increased traffic, workforce management can calculate whether they need extra hands. If the load is looking to be extreme, it might be a good idea to hire temporary help to cover certain parts of the job process to minimize the number of errors while balancing the workload.
2. Check Your Queries Per Second (QPS) Limits with Your Providers
While you are busy strengthening your backend, it’s worth contacting both your payment processing partners and your anti-fraud software providers to make sure your query limits are expanded enough to handle the surge of activity.
Most systems have some sort of rate limit in place which can be raised to cope with the load, and many will be mindful of the fact that this period is super busy.
However, it’s better to be safe than sorry so it’s in your best interest to proactively communicate your increased needs.
3. Sanity Check Your Velocity Rules
Crazy good deals make customers go wild. This is true not just for traditional retail but online as well.
Make sure that your velocity rules and spend limits are adequately lax, as even the most timid shoppers are prepared to open their wallets for big-ticket items.
Because of the unusual circumstances, you should expect some abnormal shopping behavior and adjust your risk appetite (and risk scores) accordingly, as customer insults are especially painful during this time of the year.
Blocking a good customer will mean they’ll just go straight to the competition!
4. Feed Last Year’s Black Friday Fraud into Your ML Engine
Hindsight is 20/20, as the saying goes. But we can learn from it.
If you still have last year’s data at hand, you can investigate the transactions made on Black Friday and Cyber Monday that turned out to be chargebacks due to fraud, then label them accordingly on your machine learning system.
If you use a whitebox solution, it is still a good idea to go over the suggested rules to catch anything that seems odd and even get a clearer view of the fraud landscape.
If you’re a SEON customer, you can even use the rule tester to get an idea of the expected rate of false positives you may incur. This will return a confusion matrix to visualize the expected performance of each rule and help you gauge the expected rates of true positives, false positives, etc.
It is worth having the ML work in the background, especially at times of increased load. Its greatest advantage is that it can spot patterns that might escape analysts who are being spread thin.
5. Prepare for an Increase in Account Takeovers
There is no question about it. Fraudsters will jump on the opportunity offered by increased transactions and Black Friday deals by phishing your customers.
A common mode of attack is setting up fake websites and fake deals to get consumer data, but you could even be targeted by cybersquatters masquerading as your store to get your customers’ login details.
Your cybersecurity team should be proactively monitoring for these kinds of attacks anyway, but on the transaction management end, you should block suspicious logins and raise alerts with behavior that’s associated with ATOs, such as sudden password changes or amending of shipping details.
6. Drill In Your Counter Social Engineering Policies
Your customer service will be overloaded. That’s a prime weak spot for an increasing vector of attacks: social engineering scams against your agents. Typically this will be aimed at acquiring customer details or committing refund fraud, but ambitious fraudsters will try to avoid blocks using this method as well.
You should have verification policies and scripts in place to make sure that the person on the phone or in email communication is in fact who they say they are. A quick social media lookup can help you verify their identity via checking their digital footprint.
It’s worth popping in a couple of extra training sessions ahead of the events to act as a refresher for your team.
SEON offers a fully modular fraud solution, unique digital footprint analysis, granular reporting, and the free support of a team made up of fraud analysts and managers.
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7. Supercharge Your Manual Reviews with a Free SEON Trial
If you aren’t already a SEON customer, it is a great time to try out our end-to-end software.
We offer a 14-day free trial of our anti-fraud solutions, no card required. All you need to do is sign up for an account.
One of the biggest benefits of doing so is the fact you will enjoy access to our frictionless digital footprint analysis tools, to boost your manual review process without impacting the shopper’s journey.
Using an email address, phone number or IP address for the customer, which are usually already at hand, these reverse lookup modules source reliable, actionable data from 90+ sources in real time.
We have found that this is especially useful for our customers who are experiencing bursts in their workload.
As this requires no integration or upfront fees, analysts themselves can take charge and put it to good use to reach confident conclusions about suspicious cases quickly and efficiently.
Batch uploads are also available, should you plan on doing tiered analysis, where real-time checks are assisted by a second layer of human analysts ready to catch what got through the more-lax-than-normal fraud scoring rulesets, that are typical of the season.
Cyber Monday and Black Friday are hugely exciting days for both merchants and consumers.
Follow the actionable tips above to be proactive with your fraud prevention, so you can reap the rewards with minimal issues and worries.
You might also be interested in reading about:
- SEON: How to Improve Gift Card Fraud Prevention
- SEON: How to Fight Return Fraud
- SEON: Friendly Fraud: How to Mitigate Chargeback Risk More Effectively
- SEON: Ecommerce Fraud Detection & Prevention
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Gergo Varga is SEON’s Product Evangelist. With more than 10+ years of experience in the Hungarian and international risk management sphere, he has developed an astute knowledge of RiskOps and Open Source Intelligence. He is the author of SEON’s Fraud Prevention for Dummies guide.
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