Despite the introduction of new security measures such as EMV chip technology, 2016 saw the highest number of victims of identity fraud , according to a new report from Javelin Strategy & Research and identity-theft-protection firm LifeLock Inc.
The Global Credit Card industry has industry players facing new business pressures in strategic areas. Chief among these business shifts are burgeoning online transaction volumes, increased regulatory pressures (e.g. PSD2 in the European Union) and disruptive competition from FinTechs.
As discussed in various posts in this blog in 2016 – Consumers, Banks, Law Enforcement, Payment Processors, Merchants and Private Label Card Issuers are faced with yet another critical & mounting business challenge – payment card fraud. Payment card fraud continued to expand at a massive clip in 2016 – despite the introduction of security measures such as EMV Chip cards, multi-factor authentication, secure point of sale terminals etc. As the accessibility and modes of usage of credit, debit and other payment cards burgeons and transaction volumes increase across the globe, Banks are losing tens of millions of dollars on an annual basis to fraudsters.
Regular readers of this blog will recollect that we spent a lot of time last year discussing Credit Card and Fraud in some depth. I have reproduced some of these posts below for background reading.
It’s time for a 2017 update on this issue.
Increasing Online Payments means rising Fraud
The growing popularity of alternative payment modes like Mobile Wallets (e.g Apple Pay, Chase and Android Pay) are driving increased payment volumes across both open loop and closed loop payments. Couple this with in-app payments (e.g Uber) as well as Banking providers Digital Wallets only driving increased mobile payments. Retailers like Walmart, Nordstrom and Tesco have been offering more convenient in-store payments.
This relentless & secular trend towards online payments is being clearly seen in all forms of consumer and merchant payments across the globe. This trend will only continue to accelerate in 2017 as smartphone manufacturers continue to produce devices that have more onscreen real estate. This will drive more mobile commerce. With IoT technology taking center stage, the day is not long off when connected devices (e.g. wearables) make their own payments.
However, with convenience of online payments confers anonymity which increases the risk of fraud. Most existing fraud platforms were designed for a previous era – of point of sales payments – with their focus on magnetic stripes, chips and EMV technology. Online payments thus present various challenges that Banks and Merchants did not have to deal with on such a large scale.
According to the WSJ  more consumers (15.4 million in the US) became victims of identity fraud in 2016 than at any point in more than a decade. Despite new security protections implemented by the industry in the form of EMV – about $16 billion was lost to fraudulent purchases with online accounting for a 15% rise in cases.
Fraud is a pernicious problem which in a lot of cases leads to a much worse crime- identity theft. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) terms Identity theft as “one of the most insidious forms of white collar crime”. Identity theft typically results in multiple instances of fraud, which exact a heavy toll on consumers, merchants, banks and the overall economy. Let us look at some specific recommendations for Payment providers to consider.
Sadly, the much hyped “Chip on your cards” are useless in countering online fraud..
Javelin Research noted in their study that the vast majority of identity theft fraud was linked to credit cards.
Most credit card holders in the USA will remember 2016 as the year when electronic chip technology became ubiquitous and required at the majority of retail establishments. The media buzz around chips was that this would curtail fraudster activity. However, this has been accompanied by a large in online theft. Card-not-present (CNP) fraud, which is when a thief buys something online or by phone, rose 40%.
So did Account takeover fraud, where thieves access ongoing customer accounts and change the contact details/security information. These increased 61% compared to 2015, and totaled around 1.4 million incidents.
It is very clear that the bulk of fraud happens over online transactions. It is here that the Banks must focus now. And online is a technology game.
How should Banks, Retailers & Payment Providers Respond..
Online card fraud revolves around the unauthorized stealing of an individual’s financial data. Fraudsters are engaging in a range of complex behaviors such as counterfeiting cards, committing mail fraud to open unauthorized accounts, online Card Not Present (CNP) transactions etc. Fraud patterns are quickly copied and reproduced across diverse geographies.
Let us consider five key areas where industry players need to make investments.
#1 Augment traditional Fraud Detection Systems & Architectures with Big Data capabilities
Traditional Fraud detection systems have been built leveraging expert systems or rules engines. These expert systems are highly mature as they take into account the domain experience, intuition of fraud analysts. Fraud patterns called business rules are created in the form of IF..THEN.. format and made available in these systems. These rules describe a range of well understood patterns as shown below.
If Consumer Credit = yes And Transaction amount ≤ 1000 And Card present = yes Then Fraud = no
Typically hundreds of such rules are applied in realtime to incoming transactions.
Expert systems have been built for the era of physical card usage and can thus only reason on a limited number of data attributes. In the online world they are focused on looking for factors such as known bad IP addresses or unusual login times based on Business Rules and Events.However, the scammers have also learnt to stay ahead of the scammed and are leveraging computing advances to come up with ever new ways of cheating the banks. Big Data can help transform the detection process by enriching the data available to the fraud process including traditional customer data, transaction data, third party fraud data, social data and location based data.
Big Data also provides capabilities to tackle the most complex types of fraud and to learn from fraud data & patterns to be able to stay ahead of criminal networks. It is recommended that fraud systems be built using a layering paradigm. E.g. Provide multiple levels of detection capabilities starting with a) configuring business rules (that describe a fraud pattern) as well as b) dynamic capabilities based on machine learning models (typically thought of as being more predictive). Fraud systems also need to adapt Big Data frameworks like Spark, Storm etc to move to a real time mode. Frameworks like Spark make it extremely intuitive to implement advanced risk scoring based on user account behavior, suspicious behavior etc.
Advanced fraud detection systems augment the Big Data approach with building models of customer behavior at the macro level. Then they would use these models to detect anomalous transactions and flag them as potentially being fraudulent.
#2 Create Dynamic Single View of Cardholders
The Single View provide comprehensive business advantages as captured here – http://www.vamsitalkstech.com/?p=2517. The SVC can help with the ability to view a customer as a single entity (or Customer 360) across all those channels & to be able to profile those.Ability to segment those customers into populations based on their behavior patterns. This will vastly help improve anomaly detection capabilities while also helping reduce the false positive problem.
#3 Adopt Graph Data processing capabilities
Fraudsters are engaging in a range of complex behaviors such as counterfeiting cards, committing mail fraud to open unauthorized accounts, online Card Not Present (CNP) transactions etc. Fraud patterns are quickly copied and reproduced across diverse geographies as fraudsters operate in concert. Thus, fraud displays a strong social element which leads to a higher risk of repetitive fraud across geographies.
The ability to demonstrate Social Network identity links with customer profiles to establish synthetic (or fraudulent) customer profiles and to reduce false identities is a key capability to possess. As fraud detection algorithms constantly analyze thousands of data points, it is important to perform Network based analysis understand if an account or IP Address or fraud pattern is occurring across different and seemingly unrelated actors. The ability to search for the same Telephone numbers, Email accounts, social network profiles etc – in addition to machine data such as similar IP Addresses, device signatures and addresses can be used to establish these connections. Thus, graph and network analysis lends a different dimension to detection.
#4 Personalize Fraud Detection by Adopting Machine Learning
Incorporating as many sources of data (both deep and wide) into the decisioning process helps majorly in analyzing fraud. This data includes not just the existing – customer databases, data on historical spending patterns etc but also credit reports, social media data and other datasets (e.g Government watch-lists of criminal activity).
Some of these non-traditional sources are depicted below –
- Geolocation Data
- Purchase Channel Data
- Website clickstream data
- POS Sensor, Camera, ATM data
- Social Media Data
- Customer Complaint Data
Payment Providers assess the risk score of transactions in realtime depending upon these 100s of such attributes. Big Data enables these reasoning on more detailed and granular attributes. Advanced statistical techniques are used to incorporate behavioral (e.g. transaction is out of normal behavior for a consumers buying patterns), temporal and spatial techniques. The models often weigh attributes differently from one another thus separating the vast majority of good transactions from the small percentage of fraudulent ones.
We discussed the fact that fraud happens at every stage of the process – account opening, customer on-boarding, account validation & cross verification, card usage & chargebacks etc. It is imperative that fraud models be created and leveraged across the entire business workflow.
#5 Automate the Fraud Monitoring, Detection Lifecycle
Business Process Management (BPM) is a more prosaic and mature field compared to Big Data and Predictive Analytics. Pockets of BPM implementations exist at every large Bank in customer facing areas such as issuance, on-boarding, reporting, compliance etc. However, the ability to design, deploy automated processes is critical across the Cards fraud lifecycle. In areas like dispute management, false positive case resolution etc depend upon robust Case Management capability – which a good BPM platform or tool can provide.
Improvements can be noticed in agent productivity, number of cases handled per Agent and improved customer satisfaction. Errors and lags due to issues in human driven manual processes come down. On the front end, providing customers with handy mobile apps to instantaneously report suspicious transactions as well as tying those with automated handling can drastically improve fraud detection thus saving tens of millions of dollars. Major improvements can also seen in compliance, dispute resolution and cross border customer service.
Online fraud keeps going up year after year, thus enterprises will remain vigilant especially banks and retailers. Online retail sales are expected to total nearly $28 trillion in 2020  and it is a given that fraudsters will invent new techniques to steal customer data. Effective Fraud prevention has become an essential part of the customer experience.
 WSJ – Credit Card Fraud Keeps Rising Despite New Security Chips – “https://www.wsj.com/articles/credit-card-fraud-keeps-rising-despite-new-security-chipsstudy-1485954000”
 Forbes – That Chip on Your Credit Card Isn’t Stopping Fraud After All – “http://fortune.com/2017/02/01/credit-card-chips-fraud/ “