Experts urge collaboration to fight fraud

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Separate data sharing intitiatives should be more closely linked

Experts at the Retail Fraud Show called for greater data sharing between merchants, vendors and to combat the threat of online fraud.

The ideal solution would be to create a hybrid system from the already existing data sharing networks operated by The 3rd Man and the Apacs backed FISS, said Paul Rodgers, chairman of payment industry organisation Vendorcom.

"We should be heading towards some sort of single view of this data," he added. "I'm not sure we should go for a single database but we should find a way of linking them together – all of these [schemes] have their own unique place and we should be bringing some of those unique factors to bear on this."

Rodgers urged all stakeholders to contact their trade associations to try and "make this happen", adding that the vendor and banking community should copy the fraudsters – by collaborating effectively together.

Paul Simms, managing director of The Third Man also backed data sharing among online retailers. In 2007, this tactic contributed to 20 per cent of detected fraud among the vendor's customers, he explained. So far in 2008 the figure has risen to 38 per cent.

But he warned that firms must supplement sharing data with other techniques for fraud prevention: most detected fraud has no previous history attached to it, he explained.

Mari-Ann Bayliss, fraud prevention manager at Home Retail Group, said her firm used shared data as a part of a multi-layered fraud detection strategy, including implementation of 3-D Secure and back office checks.

But some industries are simply opposed to the notion of data sharing, warned Elliot Castro, a reformed fraudster. Banks have historically been too slow to share data about fraudsters with each other and retailers – a lot less so than the insurance industry, he said.

"The banking industry is so tight-lipped about [fraud]," he added. "The problem with them is admitting they have a problem in the first place."

Meanwhile, some of the speakers claimed police responses to incidents of fraud are inadequate. Will Wynne, managing director of online florist Arena Flowers said his firm used to report fraud but gave up after police failed to act on those reports.

"In London they don't have time so we don't bother. Even £1,000 fraud case is not high priority; retailers foot the bill so it's our problem unfortunately," he said.

A delegate from Ocado explained that in his conversation s with the police, they wouldn't consider investigating fraud unless the amount taken was over £10,000.

Ex-fraudster Castro agreed that fraud is still not seen as a serious enough crime. "So many people don't see it as a proper crime. What is the deterrent? Sentencing for fraud is very light. And there'll always be more fraudsters than there are people trying to stop it."

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