Why Improved Authentication May Stop the Online Fraud Epidemic

Research shows that 71 percent of businesses know that they deny more transactions than they should. This doesn’t just lead to a loss of sales; it’s also likely to damage the lifetime value of that customer.

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It is readily apparent that IT security at the outset of 2018 isn’t making a lot of headway in stopping thieves in the murky world of online fraud. The bad actors always seem to be a lap or two ahead, while security providers appear to be running in place.

Consumer credit reporting agency Experian’s “Global Fraud and Identity Report,” released Jan. 24, bears this out. The new research shows that fraud trends and patterns continue to grow across the globe in all sectors, finding that most businesses—72 percent, in fact—cited fraud not as simply a continuing concern, but one that is increasing.

In fact, a full 60 percent of businesses are experiencing the same or more fraudulent losses online compared with a year ago, Experian said. Progress against this trend is simply not being made.

The research also shows that businesses need to better identify their customers to help combat online fraud. Currently, most businesses tend to demonstrate suspicion when it comes to preventing fraud, following a route of detection rather than permission or trust; 71 percent know that they deny more transactions than they should. This doesn’t just lead to a loss of sales; it’s also likely to damage the lifetime value of that customer, Experian said.

More Precision Needed in Authentication Systems

Business decision-makers know that if they were more precise in identifying customers and avoiding denial of real transactions, they would see an increase in revenue. In fact, 84 percent of businesses told Experian that the need for fraud risk mitigation could be reduced if they were certain about customers’ identity.

As businesses undergo their digital transformations to new and faster software and equipment, they recognize the importance of trust and the need for technology to deliver it, Experian said.

“Whether it’s in our favorite coffee shop or shopping online, being recognized by the people we do business with goes a long way,” Kathleen Peters, Experian Senior Vice President of Global Fraud and Identity, said in a media advisory. “Recognition helps to stimulate trust, and trust is what makes all of us feel safe and protected. Trust is the currency of digital commerce. Technology is the enabler that underpins it.”

Findings from the study show that while consumers want to be recognized, they also expect online banks and retailers to do everything they can to protect their information and secure their transactions. About 70 percent of consumers like security protocols when they transact online, because it makes them feel protected.

If It Becomes Overly Complicated, Users Will Bolt

But there’s a fine line: This doesn’t mean they can tolerate too many hurdles and inconveniences. The most effective fraud prevention and identity strategies keep people safe without disrupting their experience.

“Fraud is always evolving, and fraudsters are becoming more resourceful. Good fraud detection requires multiple strategies, including better customer recognition,” Peters wrote. “Simply put, the better you recognize your customer, the better you can recognize fraud.”

For the study, Experian interviewed more than 5,500 consumers and 500 business executives in 11 markets around the world. Additional findings from the annual fraud report include:

  • One out of every four consumers has abandoned a transaction because setting up a new account required too much information.
  • 35 percent of consumers would transact more online if there were fewer security hurdles.
  • Only 40 percent of businesses say they are “very confident” in their ability to detect fraud.
  • 52 percent of businesses are still using passwords for fraud detection and protection.
  • 75 percent of businesses expressed interest in more advanced measures that have no impact on the digital customer experience.

The "Global Fraud and Identity Report" also shows how different regions across the globe view and manage fraud. For example:

  • Different regions put different levels of emphasis on advanced security measures that have no impact on the digital customer experience. The United States, India, South Africa and China make this a significantly higher priority.
  • Tolerance for friction in the name of security varies across the countries surveyed. Consumers in India and South Africa are more tolerant of security protocols because it makes them feel protected, while consumers in Turkey are less tolerant.

To obtain more details, download the full report here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...