Jeff Wixted
Jeff Wixted Mar 19, 2018

Your gold mettle moment: How to stop fraudsters from stealing the spotlight at worldwide events

The Winter Olympics recently closed in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the World Cup kicks off this June across Russia. These exciting global sporting events bring with them massive business opportunities for merchants and banks across the world. But with any major revenue opportunity, the increased risk of fraud isn’t far behind—with the bad guys waiting to cheat their way into a big win.

Many online businesses have special processes in place for any transaction that originates in these risky commerce countries. Such transactions are often manually reviewed and automatically rejected in some cases. But given that these major events bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to the cities, does this still represent the best plan of action? Do businesses risk missing out on valid revenue opportunities if they don’t loosen their controls? And if they do, will they leave themselves vulnerable to increased attack rates?

Cybercriminals always seek new ways to commit fraud—and the larger the scale, the better. Major world events provide them with just that. In fact we saw an attack at the 2018 Winter Olympics Opening Games where criminals hacked event servers, interfered with the event TVs and brought down the Olympics website for several hours.

Banks and merchants alike must study fraud patterns they see during major events. Specifically, lessons learned during the Winter Olympics can be applied to the 2018 World Cup; the May royal wedding in London (believe it or not, a previous wedding caused fraud issues for merchants in 2011); the September 2018 Ryder Cup in France … the list goes on. All these events will see customers traveling cross-border. Banks need to prepare: to ensure they do not upset valid customers while they protect those very same customers from the increased attack risk during worldwide events.

Fraudsters can easily pose as your valid customers trying to access an account. What can you do when transactions look even riskier because they initiate from other countries?

Here are four items businesses need to consider during these and all events on the world stage to maximize revenue, minimize fraud and protect the customer experience.    

1. Decide what’s most important to your institution

Would you rather keep strict controls on cross-border transactions? Then consider increasing staff to handle the larger number of manual reviews you’ll experience. This will help guarantee you capture the fraud while you minimize false positives.

Or do you prefer to lessen your risk controls in those countries? This may help increase sales and reduce the risk of upsetting actual customers. However, it may increase the chance of experiencing fraud losses. You’ll need to strike the right balance.

2. Make sure your mobile channel–especially your apphas the same fraud controls as your website.

Increasingly, your customers transact on mobile devices. Whether you have a mobile site or app, make sure to utilize the same fraud controls across all channels. Cybercriminals look for any security hole to exploit; too often the mobile channel represents the weakest link. As your customers travel, they may look to use their mobile device more regularly. Strong device intelligence helps banks identify mobile transactions that come from a valid customer and a valid device—not one a fraudster jerry-rigged to look like it. For instance, do you have a rule in place to view the native language setting for a mobile device? If not, consider adding one.  

3. Educate your customers

Remind your customers that when they travel to countries with particularly risky commerce—such as Russia, South Korea, Indonesia or Vietnam—they should let you know so that they don’t experience bank card declines or issues accessing funds while abroad. 

4. Partner with companies that understand online fraud

Companies such as Accertify have spent the last decade understanding cybercrime and helping businesses prevent fraud while enabling sales and international growth. The right partner can help your bank strike a thoughtful balance so that you don’t miss important revenue opportunities or open yourself to increased fraud rates during major world events.    

No matter your aim or your game, remember that bad actors never play by the rules. In the face of such nefarious strategy, smart business leaders and banks know that the easiest game to win is one where the opponent fails to show. And if you mount the kind of protection that keeps fraudsters off the field of play, then congratulations: your race is won. Step up to the podium and claim your prize.

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Jeff Wixted is Vice President of Operations and Product at Accertify, where he oversees Product Management, Decision Sciences, Implementation and Support teams. He also represents Accertify as a member of the Merchant Risk Council's global advisory board.

If you enjoyed this article, check out: Of data and deadlines: The scramble for cybersecurity compliance and Blanket security: How AI is remaking risk management.

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