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By Steve Ritter, CTO at Mitek 

Spending is on the rise – especially in-store, as retail footfall climbs towards pre-pandemic levels again. Criminals are already strategizing about how they will capitalise upon this. When you consider that contactless card limits have recently increased, it’s clear that fraudsters could be set for a huge haul this year.  

With limits on contactless transactions now extended to £100 at a time, thieves intent on defrauding shoppers may be able to take as much as £300 using a stolen contactless card before facing any security checks. This could mean shoppers hitting the high street face much higher risk of substantial financial loss than before if their cards are stolen. For businesses that have seen profits from in-store sales plummet during the last eighteen months, it’s clear that to win and retain customers they must offer a fantastic experience whilst also keeping the customer safe from fraud. 

New spending technologies are inspiring new scams   

With increased consumer spending come new technologies that make paying for goods faster and easier. But fraudsters are always up to date with the latest trends.  

A fraudster is only as good as his tools. Unfortunately, bad actors are constantly adapting to the latest technologies, whether through impersonating businesses and organisations where people regularly shop or sending phishing emails to collect people’s personal data

For instance, with more choice of product and brand at the consumer’s fingertips than ever, fraudsters have recently been tricking consumers into buying goods that never existed and will never be received, using long shipping delays as a cover. By the time you realise the company you bought from is unreachable and nowhere to be found online, it may be too late for you to report the fraud to your bank and get a refund. 

In-store might seem safer than online, but beware. While contactless payments are tricky for fraudsters to intercept via the paystream, consumers are right to be concerned when it comes to the repercussions of losing their card or having it stolen. We each have a different risk profile. £100 is a lot for some, and a little for others.  

Organisations have a responsibility to listen to their customers when it comes to the degree of risk involved in making a transaction with them. It might seem like this is out of retailers’ hands, but it’s not. How can retailers ensure their customers are protected

Shoppers need reassurance of transaction security style=”font-weight: 400;”> 

In the last two years, companies and consumers alike have been forced to prioritise health and physical safety above all else. Thanks to the convenience of a simple tap, contactless payments are on the rise. However, consumers also expect flexible payment options when it comes to shopping.  

While apps like Apple Pay already offer unlimited contactless payments without customers expressing concerns, the risk is different for cards. Apps require a pin, face or fingerprint scan – a layer of security contactless cards simply don’t have.   

When you use Apple Pay for instance, you verify yourself with either your fingerprint or Face ID, in addition to giving your payment details. This checks off the ‘have’ and the ‘are’. 

Alternatively, identity verification technologies are used by payments providers like PayPal. Everyone who signs up to PayPal, whether to send money around the world or to potentially buy or sell online, has several hoops to jump through to prove they are who they say they are. These hoops include identity verification technologies

The solution for contactless payment security could take a leaf from Apple pay’s book. By verifying your identity using a selfie and a photo of your ID document, shoppers could feel more secure – while still only taking a few seconds to process. What’s more, banks and payments providers often ramp up this verification for large transactions or after a period of consistent transactions – adding another layer of security to what could be seen as ‘riskier’ payments. 

Defending consumers from fraudsters  

Moving forward, the highest priority for retailers and businesses seeking customer loyalty is to implement secure payment methods. The first step in cultivating a sense of trust with consumers is to adopt secure technologies. This will give customers both a high degree of security and convenience.   

To build that trust, financial institutions must listen to the full spectrum of customer needs when they design new services, and continually balance this with security. They must be ten steps ahead of fraudsters, identifying their patterns and managing the risks.  Fundamentally, tech companies have a responsibility to help retailers protect people’s money, identities, and data. Consumers make the most of their digital identities only when these companies live up to their responsibilities.

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