Guest post: 5 ways to protect against online fraud from Frank Abagnale

What took time, patience, unusual equipment and certain skills years ago can be accomplished in a matter of minutes online today. Technology and the internet have enabled the growth and prevalence of online fraud. For today’s fraud perpetrator, all you need is a laptop, internet connection and some knowledge of how to operate phishing emails.


Fraudsters are becoming more IT savvy, and they are increasingly exploiting weaknesses in technology to perpetrate fraud. That’s why in the past, I have advised Experian on their fraud prevention systems. They would present solutions to me and I would pick holes in them until they made them secure.

But on the flipside, technology and data are also at the heart of fraud prevention. Proficient fraud detection depends upon the methodical ability to accumulate and quickly evaluate large amounts of data, while identifying activities and patterns symptomatic of potential fraud, to prevent and reduce fraud losses.

But reducing fraud losses is only half the story.

In these days where the customer calls the shots, businesses can achieve a win-win with their fraud prevention tactics by reducing their bottom line by catching more fraud, while also improving the customer experience. That’s why Experian designs their fraud prevention solutions to help ensure the delivery of a positive, reputation-enhancing experience for genuine customers, which results in fewer false positives and reduced levels of drop off and abandonment.

Here are five ways to protect your customers and business:

  1. Raise awareness across your business and get your team on the same page

The weakest link in protecting against fraud is often human.  Security should be everyone’s responsibility within an organisation. Often the greatest risks to security stem from employees who, through a lack of awareness of the wide-ranging nature of fraud, unintentionally do something which creates an opportunity for cybercriminals to enter the organisation.

  1. Acknowledge that you have a fraud problem

If an organisation thinks that it doesn’t have a fraud problem then it is probably looking in the wrong place. The scale of organised cybercrime is so vast and the volume of data breaches which have occurred in recent years is so high that organisations should start from the assumption that all voluntarily submitted data is compromised. A good starting point is to add the risk of account opening fraud, account takeover and online payment fraud to the organisation’s risk register so that it has on-going visibility.

  1. Identify key fraud risk points across the customer journey

Identify weaknesses and inconsistencies in customer processes because these will be sought and exploited by fraudsters. In the case of account takeover fraud, having acquired compromised data, fraudsters will often log-in to accounts and conduct surveillance – reviewing and evaluating the account before they add bogus details and commit the offence. Using solutions like Experian’s which understand the fraudsters’ mindset (remember, I helped develop them!), will enable the establishment of multiple, undetectable monitoring points across the fraudster’s process.

  1. Exploit anomalies and inconsistencies within behavioural device data

Develop the capability to analyse the behaviours, setup and usage patterns of the connected digital devices that log-in to your website. This will enable you to build an association between the device and the user which, in turn, will help identify inconsistencies and anomalies that indicate malicious intent.

  1. Use behavioural data to make POSITIVE associations

The flipside of developing the capability to analyse device and user behaviour is that it can build a greater level of intimacy with genuine customers. Enhancing your ability to recognise the habits and behaviours of genuine customers will enable you to offer them fast and friction-free log-ins and authentication, thereby deepening relationships and enhancing loyalty.

About the author:

Frank Abagnale is one of the world’s most respected authorities on forgery, embezzlement and secure documents. For over 40 years, he has worked with, advised and consulted with hundreds of financial institutions, corporations and government agencies around the world. Abagnale’s rare blend of knowledge and expertise began more than 40 years ago when he was known as one of the world’s most famous confidence men.

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