Knowing Your Customer: Account Takeover Fraud Interview with Gasan Awad
On December 9, 2014, Equifax and the Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) hosted a webinar titled Account Takeover Protection for Online and Mobile Banking. Featured speakers for the event included Gasan Awad, VP of Identity and Fraud Product Management at Equifax Inc., and Max Anhoury, VP of Global Partnerships at iovation, a device reputation services provider.
Account takeover fraud (ATF) is a $4.6 billion problem, with the rate of fraud activity rising by 70 percent in the past two years, according to the 2014 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy & Research. I recently sat down with Awad to delve deeper into the issue of Account Takeover Fraud (ATF) and to discuss what steps companies can take to help prevent and alleviate the problem.
Interviewer: Gasan, how do you define account takeover fraud?
Awad: ATF occurs when someone hijacks or otherwise takes over a consumer account for fraudulent purposes. Generally, the bad guys use data manipulation or social engineering with malware to gather pieces of data to breach a consumer’s account without his or her knowledge.
Interviewer: Just how pervasive is the problem of this type of fraud?
Awad: Forrester Research estimates that ATF comprises 40 percent of all consumer fraud cases, so it’s a very real problem. When we talk to clients, invariably they cite it as a big challenge. It’s also an across-the-board problem, impacting financial institutions, telecom companies, insurers and government agencies, among other industries.
Interviewer: You say help lies in a “balancing act.” What exactly does that mean?
Awad: ATF isn’t just about data and potential financial losses. You also have to account for maintaining the customer experience and regulatory requirements. That makes it a balancing act.
Interviewer: You prescribe taking an “enterprise approach” when taking on account takeover fraud. Can you elaborate?
Awad: The problem of ATF is much bigger than just the information technology department. It’s a spider web that strings down through the entire organization, including sales, customer service, and the risk manager’s office (which mostly deal with regulatory issues). Therefore, the solution needs to be enterprise-wide, too. Account fraud needs to be on the radar of every department manager; since fraudsters generally stay one step ahead of companies, you want to minimize playing catch-up as much as possible. Getting everyone’s involvement and buy-in really helps in that regard.
Interviewer: What kind of technology tools do you recommend companies use to fight account takeover fraud?
Awad: A multi-layered approach, where you can be flexible and apply different tools to different departments that have different needs and priorities. You also want your technology to be flexible, allowing you to write your own rules and incorporate next-generation software like device identification, biometrics and behavior analytics. It’s really all about incorporating the right technologies and tool sets so you are not gambling on one platform or one solution.
Interviewer: Lastly, you talked in your webinar about “knowing your customer.” How does that knowledge help protect a company against ATF?
Awad: You have companies whose customers come in and do the same thing every day, using the web and mobile devices to do so. Some companies make the mistake of not utilizing that actionable data. Are your customers calling you from the same phone number or reaching out to you via the same email address? Do you know the web pages they regularly use? These are all pieces of the puzzle that companies should be using to help thwart account takeover fraud.
ATF is a very real threat to all aspects of today’s business. To learn more about the effects of ATF and how to help combat it, view a recording of the webinar on the Consumer Bankers Association website.
Image Source: Big Stock
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