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Facility takeover fraud: the latest trend hitting the retail industry

18 February 2021

National Fraud Database data reveals facility takeover fraud in the retail sector almost tripled in 2020

Cifas urges retailers to consider how they protect their customer accounts

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, is urging retailers to better protect their customer’s information as designers and fashion chains look to attract new customers during London Fashion Week. The move comes as the latest data from the National Fraud Database reveals that facility takeover fraud in the retail sector rose by an enormous 195% in 2020.

Almost half of the instances of facility takeover fraud against retailers related to unauthorised changes to security or personal details on customer accounts, with a third relating to unauthorised deliveries. Intelligence shared by Cifas members suggests that criminals are trading information about compromised customer data online in order to support fraudulent activity against retailers. Cifas has also seen evidence of criminals discussing organisations that do not carry out fraud checks against Cifas databases to identify them as easier targets to commit fraud against.

As a result of London Fashion Week, retailers will be taking to online platforms to sell merchandise and encourage customers to sign up for accounts. Cifas is reminding these retailers that it is crucial that they keep the details of these accounts safe from fraudsters and cyber hackers.

Mark Courtney, Cifas’ Chief Product Officer, said: ‘There are a number of simple steps retailers can take to protect their customers from facility takeover fraud. It’s critical that they train and equip frontline staff - such as those working in customer support roles - so they can spot suspicious behaviour quickly. Offering multi-step authentication to customers when accessing their accounts will also mean that a breach of email and password won’t automatically give criminals access to their account.

‘With increasing numbers of people buying online, retailers need to keep up-to-date with the latest intelligence from others in the sector so they can take steps to mitigate these risks together. Criminals don’t work in silos and neither should we. Only by working together can we protect the public from the serious damage caused by fraud.’

Amber Burridge, Head of Fraud Intelligence at Cifas, said: ‘A common trend often seen around Fashion Week is alternative brands designing items similar to those you’ll see on the runway for a lower price. When shopping online for these deals, be wary of fake goods or phishing websites designed to steal your personal and banking details.

‘If you are shopping on a new website, do your research before signing up to their mailing list, creating an account or making a purchase, as these could be phishing websites. Check out reviews on independent websites and always use secure payment methods. Take your time when making a purchase and don’t feel rushed into handing over your details to anyone.’

Notes for editors

Facility takeover statistics for the retail sector:

Age 2019 2020 Volume Change % Change
<21 37 88 51 138%
21-30 611 1,533 922 151%
31-40 947 2,647 1,700 180%
41-50 1,148 2,872 1,724 150%
51-60 731 2,365 1,634 224%
61+ 305 1,656 1,351 443%
TOTAL 3,779 11,161 7,382 195%


About Cifas

Cifas is the UK’s fraud prevention service. We lead the fight against fraud by sharing data, intelligence and learning. The organisations that collaborate with us are drawn from all sectors, working together to stop fraud.

For over 30 years, we have shared trusted data of unparalleled depth and diversity; hosting the largest databases of fraud risk in the UK. Our dynamic intelligence helps us to understand the fraud threat landscape now and in the future. We provide accredited education and trusted training for organisations and individuals.

Because of Cifas, organisations that work with us collectively save over £1 billion pounds in prevented fraud losses every year, and protect countless individuals from falling victim to fraud.

Retail organisations in Cifas membership have recently taken steps to identify and prevent risks within the retails sector by sharing data and intelligence with each other. More information about joining Cifas can be found on our website.


Posted by: Cifas Press Team

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Posted by: Cifas Press Team

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