Understanding & Preventing Ecommerce Fraud

The Internet is a marketplace of information, ideas and industry. With a few choice clicks web users can learn about the history of the Pyramids of Giza, read opinion pieces regarding local news stories, and shop for yoga pants – all from the comfort of their homes.

But there is a dark side to the Internet as well.
Hackers, cybercriminals and trolls strive to make the Internet toxic through fake news, cyberbullying, fraud and theft. The sad truth is no one is immune, so long as they are connected to the web. While there is plenty to talk about, today we will focus on fraud and how it affects the ecommerce industry.

Here are a few common scams to help you when it comes to understanding and preventing ecommerce fraud.

Understanding & Preventing Ecommerce Fraud

Content Scraping

To put it simply, content scraping is part plagiarism and part impersonation. Essentially, an imposter website uses software to steal content from legitimate ecommerce websites. The deceiver site displays product descriptions, images, prices and the like to make it appear as if it is a real website selling real goods.

This is harmful for three reasons. First, consumers might be tricked into purchasing imaginary goods from phony websites. Second, it negatively affects the searchability of legitimate e-stores when search engines (like Google) flag duplicate content. Third, it may steal customers from legitimate ecommerce websites.

If you run an e-store, you might not even know you’ve been victimized by this scam. Fortunately, there are software tools to combat and report content scraping.

Credit Card Recycling Scams

As you might expect, there are dozens, if not hundreds of possible payment scams available to cybercriminals. But for the sake of brevity, we will concentrate on credit card recycling scams.

Believe it or not, it is easy for hackers to buy hundreds or even thousands of stolen credit card numbers from the digital black market or “dark web” for less than $100. Hackers can then use the pilfered credit card information to make real purchases from ecommerce websites. It’s as simple as visiting a Shopify-built website selling electronics, and purchasing two-dozen televisions for shipment to a drop point. When the pinched credit card is inevitably canceled for fraudulent activity, the hacker recycles the old credit information and uses the next set of credentials.

These kinds of scams cost ecommerce stores thousands of dollars.

Look out for these red flags to avoid getting scammed.

  • Multiple orders from various credit card accounts being shipped to the same location.
  • Unreasonable orders (like one person buying 12 TVs).
  • High instances of bot traffic.

Phishing Scams

This next scam can really hurt an ecommerce site’s credibility, even if it’s not the store’s fault. Cybercriminals often pose as real people and businesses with phishing emails.

Phishing emails are designed  to lure web users into sharing personal or financial information. For example, a phishing scam might copy the look and feel of an email template used by Billy’s Online Gift Company. The scammer sends a phony email to 200 customers warning them their account might have been compromised. All it takes to secure their account is clicking the link at the bottom of the email and signing into their account.

Regrettably, a large number of web users will fall for this scam. In reality, the users aren’t securing their account, they are exposing it by sharing their email address and password.

If you operate an ecommerce business, it might be helpful to share warning signs with your shoppers and email subscribers:

  • Tell your customers that you will never send emails asking them to share personal or financial information.
  • Tell your customers to look out for spelling errors, logo issues and the like indicating fraudulent emails.
  • Tell your customers you will only share emails from an approved email address which can be easily confirmed on the FAQ page of your website.

These are just a few of the scams out there. But hopefully this increases your understanding of ecommerce fraud. Continuing to educate yourself about preventing ecommerce fraud is good for you and your customers alike.

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