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Coronavirus response must include a boost in fraud protection

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No company is unaffected by the coronavirus crisis. Every business is facing challenges right now, but which ones your fraud team needs to look out for depends on which industry your company is in.

If you’re in an industry which is experiencing less traffic than usual, you’ll want to watch out for a normally worrying trend - because it’s one to which you shouldn’t be reacting. You’ll likely see higher decline rates, and greater friction (if you use adaptive friction in your processes).

Normally, this would be a problem. But these aren’t normal times. Right now, you’re probably seeing the numbers of good transactions drop, while fraud might not decline as quickly. That’s skewing your decline stats - but it’s actually a sign you’re doing the right things. Still, you should be sampling and doing manual reviews to make sure.

If you’re in an industry which is receiving more traffic than usual, on the other hand, you’ll want to watch out for fraudsters trying to hide in the flood of good orders. In particular, watch out for account takeover on dormant accounts. A lot of those hibernating accounts will be coming to life as everyone rushes to your store, but some of them will be fraudsters in disguise.

You may also want to watch for new accounts created with stolen or made-up identities, as fraudsters are seeking new avenues for attack when many of the old ones may be drying up.

Think through ways to reliably identify good returning users, and distinguish them from the criminals taking advantage. Focusing on identities, rather than data points, may help you here, since the data points may well have changed if it’s some time since the account was used. Collaborate with your peers in other companies to solve this problem more effectively.

Many precautions are taken to guard against attacks that will play out very soon, affecting your current metrics. But it’s also important to beware of the ways that fraudsters will be planning to leverage the stress and uncertainty of the moment to open the cracks that will benefit them later on.

Accounts set up now might be good - or they might be created so fraudsters can hide in the stressful present and age the accounts to use later when they look more legitimate. It’s a great time to set up accounts for the future - if you’re a criminal.

Moreover, fraudsters may be collecting credentials now, aiming to wait for the time when business picks up again to attack you when you least expect it. Securing accounts now, when you are still engaged with your good users, will be much easier than trying to identify possible ATO attacks on inactive accounts in the future.

Fraud prevention teams need to be aware of this, and act accordingly. Don’t give fraudsters the benefit of the doubt for the wrong reasons, even when you’re under pressure. Letting in the wrong accounts will just cause headaches for you and your team in the future.

It’s a time of challenges, but fraud teams who adapt well to them will strengthen their systems, and their understanding of their customers and their business. Reach out to peers in the industry and work together as much as possible against the common enemy. If the crisis has taught us anything, it’s that collaboration is crucial for success.

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