Monday, November 23, 2015

On Resisting Payment Fraud

A recent report suggested that credit card numbers captured by malware installed on point of sale devices at hospitality sites, including twenty at  Starwood Property Group hotels, are being used in fraudulent transactions.  The Verizon Data Breach Incident Report (DBIR) confirms that point of sale devices at hospitality sites frequently leak credit card numbers.

But there is no shortage of compromised credit card numbers; their street price is approaching a dime a dozen. It is too late to address fraud by  keeping credit card numbers secret. We need a new strategy, similar to those being promoted by American Express and described by Ken Chenault at President Obama's Conference at Stanford University.

Chenault told the conference that by confirming every card transaction to the customer's mobile, they are able to detect fraudulent transactions within sixty seconds. This is just one example of how we can use the mobile to resist fraud.

American Express also confirms transactions by e-mall. In order not to overwhelm the mailbox, the customer can set thresholds. One switch is the "card not present" switch. If as expected mobile transactions and EMV cards drive fraud to CNP then the ability to detect fraud early, for example, before goods are shipped, will be key to,resisting fraud.

We need a strategy that relies not on secrecy but on feedback. The default should be that the subject of a record be notified of any change or query to that record, that the owner of every account be notified of every transaction. The digital,networks not only make this possible but cheap enough to be efficient.

Needless to say, the lobby of the credit reporting industry that is empowered by law to charge the consumer for telling him about the content of and activity to,his record will resist this strategy. Legislation will be required to change this but it is essential to to resisting application fraud.

On the other hand, American Express and its competitors are embracing it. Even bankers are embracing it. My little three branch community bank uses SMS to notify me intra-day of all large (as defined by me) transactions to my account.

Eventually competition and efficiency will force most enterprises to adopt these tactics. You can make it strategic rather than merely tactical

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