Every business runs the risk of fraud, but some are more likely to be targeted than others. The customers you court, the products you sell and even the amount of time you have been in business can make you more vulnerable to an attack or more appealing to a cyber criminal.
There are three strategies or traits that make merchants more likely to be subject to payments fraud.
You target millennials. The image of a typical online fraud victim may be off the mark – many of us assume that the elderly are the most likely to fall victim to scams and schemes, but new research reveals that millennials are at high risk as well, particularly when it comes to mobile purchases. According to Consumer Reports, millennials may be at high risk for a number of reasons, from their adoption of mobile and digital technology to a laissez faire attitude about online security.
A recent survey by credit reporting agency TransUnion found that while most millennials list themselves as “very concerned” about online security, over 80% use mobile devices for banking, purchasing and other transactions. In addition, about 84% also use public Wi-Fi to check bank and credit card accounts online, exposing this data to theft and boosting the risk of identity theft and fraud.
A lax attitude about cyber security coupled with a high rate of mobile device use could add up for problems for those businesses that target millennial customers. From inadvertently exposing credit card and banking data over an insecure public connection to risking identity theft via unsecured phones and mobile devices, selling to Millennials can increase your risk of online fraud.
You sell hot or trending items. From the Cabbage Patch craze in the 80s to last year’s Hoverboards, popular items generate business – and can also boost online fraud. Choosing to sell these “must-have” items can propel a merchant to bigger and better opportunities both online and in a brick and mortar setting. While selling the season’s hottest items can increase your business and lead to higher profits, rapid expansion can also boost a merchant’s risk of encountering online fraud.
Entrepreneurs wishing to cash in on a craze or who are riding a wave of popularity may skip crucial steps in the rush to service customers and fulfill orders. If you sell hot or trending items or you are in a period of rapid growth, then you could also see an increase in fraudulent sales and attempts. Your very popularity could call attention to your business and if you have not taken all of the essential precautions, you could fall victim to online fraud. Taking shortcuts or rushing through the process of opening a storefront to capitalize on a trend can also harm your customers and expose their data to cyber criminals.
Not every trend-based business will fall victim to online fraud, but selling hot and attention grabbing items can boost your risk. Not only do legitimate customers want the pieces you are selling, criminals do as well, thanks to those items’ high demand and resale value.
Your business is new or growing. Cyber criminals already know that big retailers like Amazon have entire units in place to detect fraud – so your small to mid-size business might be more appealing to them. You might be seen as a location that is less able to detect a stolen credit card, particularly if you have your own online storefront or website.
Simply being aware that you are operating at a higher than normal risk and shoring up your defenses can help you protect your business from online fraud. From learning more about the types of online fraud you could experience to what to do if you expect a fraudulent transaction, you can mitigate your risk, even if you sell high risk items to high risk customers.
Srii Srinivasan is CEO of Chargeback Gurus.