Fraud Season: The Black Friday & Cyber Monday Survival Guide for E-commerce Businesses

There’s no doubt that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the most anticipated online shopping events of the year. Retailers ramp up product launches and promotions to boost sales as much as possible during this shopping season. In 2020, US retailers raked in $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday alone, breaking e-commerce sales records. 

But online retailers aren’t the only ones gearing up for this year’s shopping spectacle, fraudsters are too. The busy shopping season is the perfect opportunity for fraudsters to hide amongst the crowd and defraud e-commerce businesses. In fact, a staggering 385% increase in payment fraud marked last year’s festivities. 

Unfortunately, analysts expect e-commerce fraud attacks to be even more relentless this year. With the pandemic forcing shoppers to stay home, retailers are shifting sales online and scrambling to get ready for the flood of digital traffic. In short, this cyber weekend will be big business for both online retailers and fraudsters.

What to expect this Black Friday & Cyber Monday

E-commerce businesses can expect lots of chaos, especially at checkout. While payment fraud isn't new to e-commerce platforms, they’re often too busy with customers during sale season to meticulously screen every high-risk transaction. The fallout? It’s easier for fraudsters to hide amongst real shoppers and evade detection. 

That being said, online fraud doesn’t only happen at the point of payment. Here are three fraud attacks e-commerce businesses should pay attention to this Black Friday and Cyber Monday:  

1. Scalping 

Fraudsters unleash automated bots to buy up highly sought-after products in a scalping attack. They use bots to automate account signup and checkout processes, leaving genuine shoppers empty-handed. To make things worse, fraudsters often resell coveted items at grossly inflated prices. Last year, scalpers managed to hoard and resell over 3500 PS5 consoles for more than double the price, angering retailers and shoppers alike. 

Fraud teams should keep their eyes peeled for impending scalping attacks. Signs include a large number of new accounts created in a short time, which is usually an indicator of mass fake account creation. Another sign is if multiple accounts have the same details—credit card numbers, emails, shipping addresses—which could mean that the accounts are actually owned by the same person. 

2. Account Takeovers 

E-commerce companies aren’t new to account takeover (ATO) attacks. Black Friday or not, ATO fraud is rampant on online platforms. Fraudsters looking to make a quick buck this festive season will double down on account theft, infiltrating accounts and making fast and hefty purchases. 

Fraudsters tend to launch account takeover attacks when user traffic is at its peak. This cyber weekend, fraud teams should proactively monitor account activity levels that might be out of the ordinary. Some examples include a spike in the number of failed login attempts above the usual, multiple accounts being accessed from the same device, or the same account being logged into from different geolocations in a short span of time. 

3. Promotion Abuse 

Incentives for shoppers are also incentives for fraudsters. They abuse promotions by creating thousands of fake accounts to exhaust discounts meant for one-time use. Genuine shoppers wait for hours to score the best deals, only to walk away empty-handed, leaving them frustrated. And a disappointing customer experience is all it takes for shoppers to switch to a competitor. If e-commerce businesses want to retain customers, they'll need to safeguard their platform from fraud and abuse. 

It can be difficult for online retailers to sieve through the swarm of shoppers for fraudsters this cyber weekend. To keep up with the pace of e-commerce fraud, businesses should consider layering existing fraud prevention strategies with solutions that can automate their fraud detection process. Solutions with this capability can provide them with real-time actionable insights on the fraudulent activity happening on their platforms, equipping their teams with the ability to accurately identify and stop fraudsters before they strike. 

Stay vigilant this cyber weekend

While it’s difficult for e-commerce businesses to stop fraud attempts, they can prevent the number of successful attacks. Being able to identify whether shoppers are genuine, and if accounts and transactions are legitimate are key factors in ensuring that this shopping season is a success for shoppers and online retailers. SHIELD Risk Intelligence helps world-leading e-commerce companies keep their platforms safe from fraud and abuse all year round.

Find out how you can bolster your fraud prevention systems with us today.