Heightened fraud and cyber risks threaten e-commerce merchants
29 Jul 2020

As consumers increasingly turn to online shopping for essential and non-essential goods while at home, fraudsters have adapted their technique to use more sophisticated tactics against consumers, banks and merchants.

The situation is tenuous. A recent study from Forter shows fraud attacks increased by 19 percent, globally, from 2018 to 2019 across the online-retail landscape, ranging from return abuse and shipping fraud to account takeovers, identity manipulation and other emerging threats. Observers expect that figure to increase in 2020 based on the last few months alone. Banks and retailers have already reported increases in phishing attacks, and the perception that fraud-prevention teams are not working at full capacity due to the pandemic, makes these organizations particularly vulnerable.

E-commerce merchants, now more than ever, need to be aware of current fraud trends, and should be having conversations with their partners and service providers to establish strategies to mitigate and prevent losses. Sellers should continuously take stock in the various fraud attacks being launched against them; they should understand which retail segments are more susceptible than others; and they should know from where that fraud is originating. This information, while continually evolving, will allow merchants to determine the areas of their fraud defenses most in need of bolstering.

Surging fraud methods

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect commerce across the globe, fraudsters are using phishing emails and scam websites to bait victims, often referred to as “social engineering” fraud.

Fraudsters have used phishing emails for decades to obtain vital personal information from consumers to perform bank-account takeovers. Such emails have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Barracuda Networks, a security vendor, recently revealed phishing emails spiked 600 percent during a four-week period between the end of February and the last week of March. Brand-impersonation attacks accounted for 34 percent of those phishing emails.

At the same time, scam websites are increasingly becoming a problem. U.K. authorities recently asked internet service providers in the region to remove almost 300 fraudulent websites attempting to take advantage of consumers since the country went into lockdown on March 23.

By Bruno Spagnuolo, Security Magazine, 28 July 2020

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