It's the most fraudulent time of the year (Happy Black Friday!)

Posted by Rurik Bradbury on November 28, 2014


Black Friday, the biggest sales day in the United States, is upon us. But with great sales comes great fraud responsibility -- Black Friday is a big day for fraudsters as well.

Black Friday is typically a “brick-and-mortar” discount sale, but there’s a lot of e-commerce fraud during the holidays, too. The bulk of online transactions happen on Cyber Monday, the Monday following Black Friday.

With almost 100 million Americans expected to hit the stores (both brick-and-mortar and digital), the security experts at Fujitsu say that they "are well tuned and on slightly higher alert so that incidents can be responded to quickly and efficiently should they happen." CNBC writes that increased transaction volume and web traffic create a perfect storm for cybercriminals to sneak past a retailer’s defenses.

Typically, November is the biggest month for payment fraud -- both in-store and online. According to data compiled for 2013, the ten days with the most fraudulent “card-not-present” (CNP) transactions all happened during November, and actually, none of those days fell on Black Friday — most likely because fraudsters are conducting card present transactions.

One big root cause for retailers who get hit with CNP fraud is manually reviewing transactions. It's hard to scale such a laborious task when the sales are flying in, no matter how many employees you have. Major US retailers tell us that spending time manually reviewing sales during Black Friday is barely even possible, so some just deal with the repercussions later -- or they block real transactions on the days themselves.

We talked to one major retailer with over 100 staff on the manual review team, and serious fears about this coming holiday season: when they will have three times the transaction volume, but not even close to three times the staff. Mistakes with fraud detection are bound to happen, when the main line of defense is human detection -- people in the antifraud team who literally sit and Google buyers as they check out, to see if they look fishy on social media profiles.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be the biggest sales days for many retailers, but for most, it'll also be the biggest period for fraud of the year as well.

Topics: CNP fraud, antifraud team, manually reviewing transactions