Study: Companies Upping Security Ante to Avoid Payment Fraud

In a survey of more than 5,000 of its members, the Association for Financial Professionals found that most companies are either increasing or considering increasing security measures to prevent payment fraud, a problem a number of trade groups are also trying to tackle.

After an increase in credit- and debit- card fraud last year, a majority of companies are increasing their security measures, according to a new study by the Association for Financial Professionals.

Sixty-three percent of organizations polled for the “2014 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey” reported they have either adopted or are planning to add new security measures, including secure signature stamps, electronic stamps, and storing payment data with third-party vendors.

“Criminals will try to stay a step ahead,” Jim Kaitz, AFP’s president and CEO, said in a statement.  “But with potential liability increasing for merchants, companies are taking a hard look at where their own vulnerabilities lie.  This is especially important for big companies with complex systems, which are frequent targets for fraud.”

The study found that 60 percent of organizations were exposed to actual or attempted payment fraud last year. That’s down from 61 percent in 2012 and 68 percent in 2011. While checks were the most common form of payment targeted by perpetrators of fraud in 2013, fraudulent activity using credit and debit cards nearly doubled between 2012 and 2013.

The National Retail Federation recently called for better payment card technology to provide added security measures after a Target data breach during last year’s holiday shopping season left the personal information of as many as 70 million people at risk.

“The technology that exists in cards out there is 20th-century technology, and we’ve got 21st-century hackers,” Mallory Duncan, general counsel for the National Retail Federation, told Reuters.

As for who would pay for new security upgrades—banks, retailers, or credit card companies—that responsibility is still up in the air, but the Electronic Transactions Association said the payment processing industry is already working on the problem. One solution in the works is chip-based Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) cards, which would help prevent the creation of counterfeit cards using stolen account numbers. But chip technology doesn’t prevent criminals from using those stolen credit card numbers online.

Earlier this year, the Retail Industry Association announced it would tackle the issue of payment breaches by launching the RILA Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Initiative—a multipronged effort focused on improving payment card security, establishing a cybersecurity leaders council, and advocating for federal data-breach notification legislation.

“By working together with public-private sector stakeholders, our ability to develop innovative solutions and anticipate threats will grow, enhancing our collective security and giving customers the service and peace of mind they deserve,” RILA President Sandy Kennedy said in a statement.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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