How Merchants and Consumers Can Fight Fraud This 2018 Holiday Shopping Season


For International Fraud Awareness Week, I want to bring special focus to the upcoming holiday season around the world. Here in the U.S., the holiday season kicks off with Thanksgiving, which is now only a week away. But as consumers and merchants around the world gear up for peak holiday shopping season, fraudsters are also preparing to triumph.

Based on data from hundreds of millions of merchant transactions, including some of the world’s leading global retail brands, ACI is predicting a 14 percent increase in fraud attempts this holiday shopping season compared to last year. The projected data shows that fraud attempts are likely to peak on Thanksgiving Day. The data also shows that fraud average ticket price is expected to increase three percent from $236 to $243 compared to last year, meaning fraudsters will likely target big ticket items, such as TVs and smartphones this year. In addition, items with limited inventory at merchant stores may be a focus for theft as fraudsters aim to sell them at a higher price on the black market.

What can consumers do?

As the holiday season approaches, consumers must stay vigilant and get ahead of fraudulent activity by following a few general guidelines. Here are nine tips for consumers to combat fraud this holiday shopping season:

  • Shop at reputable websites: Check the bottom right hand corner of a website during the checkout process and look for a security icon that indicates it’s a safe transaction.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi when shopping: Personal and financial information are vulnerable on public Wi-Fi networks, so it’s safest to shop through a private and secure Wi-Fi network.
  • Be wary of public charging stations: As consumers travel during the holiday season, “juice jacking,” where fake kiosks are rigged to steal personal data from devices, is commonplace.
  • Use biometric authentication: Take advantage of thumb print or facial recognition features on mobile devices when possible.
  • Avoid using the same email and password combination with multiple merchants: Fraudsters can use these credentials for future account takeovers.
  • Set up pins for online accounts: Pins help to avoid “friendly fraud” and subsequent chargebacks, which is especially important for families with young children.
  • Do not leave boxes on front porches: During the busy holiday shopping season, fraudsters are looking to pounce as consumers are distracted.
  • Track and monitor credit and debit card spending: Automated alerts for online transactions can let consumers know exactly when they—or someone else—attempts to use a card.
  • Check credit reports: Various websites offer free credit scores, reports and insights that allow consumers to keep tabs on activity that impacts their score and ensure that it’s accurate.

How will merchants fight fraud this season?

ACI’s holiday season fraud benchmark predictions are based on data that was collected between January 2017 and October 31, 2018, and reveals the need for merchants to be prepared in their fraud prevention efforts this holiday season. The challenge of omnichannel fraud management is that fraudsters are increasingly operating across all channels. At the same time, consumers are demanding a seamless experience across these same channels. As cross-channel fraud continues to grow, the data reveals that “buy online, pick up in-store” and call centers will be areas of focus for fraudsters this year.

Merchants can fight fraud in these areas by taking a multi-layered approach to monitoring transactions and customer data.  This can range from sophisticated machine learning techniques where signals are monitored from thousands of data points, through to basic analytics and rules designed for stopping fraud. Merchants should also ensure their fraud tools are optimized to maximize conversion rates (e.g., minimize friction) for good customers, while targeting bad transactions to minimize losses.

As we get ready to celebrate the holidays, let’s also get ready to ward off fraudsters who may be lurking online and in stores.


For more information about the Holiday Season Fraud Benchmark data, please read our press release; Fraud Attempts Expected to Increase 14 Percent During 2018 Peak Holiday Season

For more information on Peak Season Preparedness. please read our 2018 Holiday Season Planning Guide: Gearing UP to defeat Holiday Fraud


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