Ecommerce Fraud: How to Identify Fraud in Ecommerce Stores

Ecommerce fraud has emerged as a significant challenge, posing a threat not only to business revenue but also to customer trust and brand reputation. As ecommerce platforms continue to flourish, attracting millions of shoppers worldwide, they unfortunately also become prime targets for various fraudulent activities.

The ability to detect ecommerce fraud efficiently is critical for the sustainability and security of any online retail business.

This challenge is particularly pronounced in sectors like print on demand merchandise, where the uniqueness of products adds complexity to tracking and verifying transactions. Fraudulent activities in such niches can not only lead to direct financial losses but also damage the relationships between businesses and genuine customers who seek customized, trustworthy services.

In this article, we will discuss various types of ecommerce fraud and learn how to identify them so that you can better protect your business and your customers from these malicious activities.

Types of Ecommerce Fraud

Here are some of the most common types of ecommerce fraud encountered today:

  1. Friendly Fraud: This occurs when customers make a purchase and then issue a chargeback with their bank, falsely claiming that the product wasn’t delivered, differed from what was ordered, or that they had canceled the order. Notably prevalent in countries like Australia and Canada, friendly fraud causes a significant percentage of chargebacks, leading to both revenue loss and potential damage to customer relationships.
  2. Card Testing Fraud: In this scenario, fraudsters use stolen credit card information to make small, low-value purchases. These transactions often go unnoticed by the cardholder, allowing scammers to confirm the card’s validity before making more substantial fraudulent purchases.
  3. Refund Abuse: This type of fraud involves customers returning damaged, broken, or stolen items for refunds, which can lead to substantial financial losses for businesses. Some retailers lose a significant portion of their revenue due to refund abuse, as reported by the National Retail Federation.
  4. Online Payment Fraud: Also known as credit card fraud, this encompasses instances where scammers use stolen payment details to make unauthorized purchases. Sometimes, fraudsters create duplicate versions of legitimate websites, deceiving customers into making purchases on these fake platforms.
  5. Account Takeover Fraud: This fraud occurs when scammers gain access to a customer’s online account, using stored payment information to make unauthorized purchases. Weak passwords, phishing emails, and malicious software are common tactics used to facilitate account takeovers.
  6. Promo, Affiliate, or Loyalty Abuse: Ecommerce promotions and loyalty programs, while beneficial for marketing, can attract scammers. Tactics include affiliate fraud (where referrals are not legitimate), loyalty fraud (using stolen credit cards to earn points), and promotion fraud (exploiting loopholes to claim free products).
  7. Triangulation Fraud: This complex scheme involves scammers listing products on marketplaces like eBay or Amazon at reduced prices, purchasing the product from the actual retailer with a fraudulent card, and then shipping it to the customer, who unknowingly has their credit card information compromised.

Understanding these types of fraud is the first step in creating effective strategies to combat them. As ecommerce continues to grow, staying vigilant and informed about these fraudulent practices is vital for the protection and longevity of online retail businesses.

How to Identify Fraud on Ecommerce Websites?

Hacker trying to do Ecommerce Fraud

Ecommerce fraud can be sophisticated and, at times, hard to detect. However, there are certain red flags that can help ecommerce store owners identify potentially fraudulent activities. Being aware of these indicators is crucial for preventing fraud and minimizing its impact on your business.

Here are key signs to watch out for:

  1. Unusually High Order Volumes: Be cautious of sudden spikes in order volumes, especially if they involve high-ticket items. Fraudsters using stolen credit cards often make large purchases, as they are not spending their own money.
  2. Small, Test Transactions: Pay attention to low-value orders, particularly those around the $1 mark. These small transactions might indicate a fraudster testing a stolen credit card’s validity before attempting larger purchases.
  3. Multiple Purchases with Different Credit Cards: If a single customer is making several purchases, each with a different credit card, it could signal that a scammer is testing various stolen card details.
  4. Repeated Declined Transactions: A string of declined transactions, especially due to incorrect security codes or expiry dates, might point to a fraudster attempting to use stolen card information.
  5. Orders from Unusual IP Locations: Watch out for orders originating from IP addresses in locations that are not typical for your customer base. For instance, a high-value order from an IP address in a different country than where most of your customers are based can be a sign of fraud.
  6. Mismatched Billing and Shipping Addresses: Be wary when the billing and shipping addresses do not match, particularly in cases of high-value orders. This can often be a tactic used in triangulation fraud.
  7. Frequent Shipments to PO Boxes: Regular shipments to PO box addresses might be an attempt by scammers to receive goods at an anonymous location, making it harder to trace the fraud.

Recognizing these signs can help you take preemptive measures to verify transactions and potentially avoid falling victim to ecommerce fraud. Implementing additional verification steps for transactions that exhibit these red flags can be a worthwhile approach to safeguard your online store.

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Ashwin S

A cybersecurity enthusiast at heart with a passion for all things tech. Yet his creativity extends beyond the world of cybersecurity. With an innate love for design, he's always on the lookout for unique design concepts.