How businesses and consumers can stay safe during the online holiday shopping season

(BPT) - The 2021 holiday shopping season is bound to break records. The National Retail Federation predicts an increase in sales between 8.5-10.5% over last year, and a record 87% of shoppers plan to shop online, according to PYMNTS.com. That’s an increase of 13% in online holiday shopping compared to last year.

In fact, approximately 263 million people in the U.S. are currently online shoppers. This dramatic growth in online shopping, especially over the holidays, brings with it increasing concerns about keeping accounts safe and secure from fraud — both for consumers and for the companies where they do their shopping. More than four out of ten (42%) consumers expressed concerns about security when shopping online, according to recent reports.

According to Juniper Research, retailers could lose over $20 billion in 2021 due to online fraud, which includes identity theft, illegal access to online accounts, using forged or stolen credit cards, SIM card theft and more.

Customers and companies can play an important role in protecting themselves from fraud over the busy holiday shopping season.

How customers can help defend their accounts from fraud

From the customer point of view, here are three things that can help keep accounts safer while shopping online:

1. Be password smart. Using stronger passwords, such as phrases, and making sure each password is unique for each account will improve security. A password manager is a good way to beef up security, as it generates stronger, unique passwords and keeps track of them.

2. Shop with trusted vendors. Buying from familiar retailers is usually safer, as is going straight to the website, and avoiding clicking on links from ads on social media or random emails. This comes down to KYB ("Know Your Business"): Customers need to ensure that the website where they do their shopping is secure. Does the web address begin with "https"? Are user authentication protocols in place, and do they offer secure checkout?

3. Stick with secure networks. Doing holiday shopping or making financial transactions when a device is on a public network can be risking identity theft.

How are companies safeguarding consumers from identity theft and other forms of fraud? With a thoughtful approach that combines forward thinking with cutting-edge technology.

How companies are working behind the scenes to help protect consumers

Companies today take identity theft and fraud seriously, as it affects their bottom line — and jeopardizes their relationships with customers. Fortunately, technology is constantly advancing to help safeguard against fraud and stay one step ahead of the criminals. This is more crucial than ever when holiday shopping online is at an all-time high, and online fraud and identity theft are, too.

"Protecting companies and customers against predatory behavior is increasingly difficult, as online fraudsters continue evolving and adapting," said John Troutman, director, Digital Identity Expert Team at TeleSign. "Just as fraud attempts become more complex, protection for any business must keep up with that complexity. We use multiple approaches, tailored to each client, to find the most effective, up-to-date solutions."

Here are three ways companies use innovative technology to guard against theft and fraud:

1. Two-factor authentication

Companies and financial institutions improve security by adding another step to verify customer identities. With two-factor authentication, the business sends a single-use authentication code to a customer’s email, phone (voice) or text (SMS).

However, even two-factor authentication has one area of vulnerability: Identity thieves trying to access an account could enter their own phone number to obtain the authentication code, or in some cases, can even swap out the SIM card on a customer's cell phone.

Fortunately, TeleSign, an authority on fraud protection and safe e-commerce practices, helps corporations guard against these and other threats with products and services to help them evaluate customer behavior and detect signs of fraud.

For example, behavioral attribute insights determined using TeleSign's Score product can identify safe and unsafe activities. This technology helps companies "see" into network actions to determine the answers to these questions:

  • Is the text behavior abnormal?
  • Is abnormal activity happening at off hours?
  • Are numbers calling or texting a customer from unusual area codes?
  • Is a customer’s number being used for malicious purposes?

These insights help detect unusual use of a cell phone to let companies know that there’s a problem. This high-level analysis helps keep customers safer, and works to avoid account takeovers and fraudulent activities.

TeleSign can also help determine the status of a customer’s phone number to see if it is active, and can do a recent SIM card check to see if a SIM card was swapped.

2. Knowing their customers

With millions of transactions being conducted over a busy holiday shopping season, how does a company know their customers well enough to detect fraudulent activity on their accounts? They need to use Know Your Customer (KYC), an approach which relies on A.I. and machine learning to accurately assess patterns in behavior — and detect changes in those patterns, which could signal fraud or identity theft.

TeleSign uses advanced Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to help companies know their customers better. APIs deliver user verification, data insights and communications to help companies prevent account takeovers, support company ecosystems inside and out, minimize fraudulent transactions and securely verify customer phone numbers.

3. Companies need to leverage the best possible support for effective fraud prevention solutions

TeleSign’s technology uses complete in-depth data analysis to identify and prevent possible breaches, helping businesses set up and prepare fraud prevention solutions to create a frictionless, E2E customer journey. TeleSign’s solutions are trusted by some of the world’s largest platforms, including Citrix, Skype, Electronic Arts (EA), ByteDance and Salesforce.

To learn more about how companies can protect their holiday shoppers from fraud and identity theft, visit TeleSign.com.