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Written by: Mike Yang

Throughout 2016, Pindrop analyzed more 700 million phone calls many of them coming from companies that receive more than 40 million calls per year. Phone fraud has increased 113% cross-industry from 1 in every 2,000 calls in 2015 to 1 in every 937 calls in 2016. While all industries are experiencing increased fraud rates, retail stands out with  1 in every 491 incoming calls being fraudulent a dramatic increase from 1 in every 1000 for 2015. This number exceeds the amount of calls coming into the call centers of credit card issuers, banks, and insurance companies 1 in 832, 1 in 867, and 1 in 4,700, respectively.
“It’s a wild west out there,” says David Dewey, Director of Research at Pindrop.

Why is retail being targeted?

Retailers’ existing security systems are not robust or secure enough to handle the increasing volume of data filtering across web-enabled devices and processes. A digitally-influenced retail experience may enable brands to conduct business from a variety of access points, but it also allows criminals to take a multi-faceted approach to acquiring customer data.

Why are fraudsters redirecting their attacks to the call center?

With the rollout of EMV technology and improved security measures online, fraudsters have redirected their attacks to the phone channel the weakest link in security. Call center agents often fall victim to these attacks because they are focused on administering quality customer service rather than detecting and preventing fraud. 61% of fraud can be traced back to the call center. The root cause of fraud loss, the call center, is often misdiagnosed by retailers, enabling fraud in other channels, such as debit card, credit card, and check order takeover online fraud that occurs as soon as credentials are reset by call center agents.
Organized fraud rings use information acquired from data breaches and social websites to successfully impersonate customers and get through security questions. Because these questions are designed to allow legitimate users to easily access their accounts, call center agents don’t immediately assume these are illegitimate callers. On average, these fraudsters call in five times attempting to make changes to a victim’s account, such as the associated email address or physical address, in order to gain control.
Fraudsters are also getting better at hiding their identity phone number, location, and device type. By using prepaid phone cards, Skype or Google Voice calls, or by taking over someone’s home VoIP system, their phonecalls can be masked to look like they originate from a customer’s home. In the United States, 83% of fraudulent calls originate overseas.

What is the most common approach fraudsters are taking in the retail space?

For retailers, chargeback fraud is the most common approach that criminals take. This occurs when a criminal calls a retailer to make a fraudulent purchase using a victim’s identity and card information, then having the product shipped to a different physical address. Retailers in the United States lost $60 billion to fraud in 2015 mostly due to chargeback fraud coming from card-not-present (CNP) transactions. Fraud loss for retailers now averages $3.4 million annually.

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