What’s Happening with Mobile Device Payments Is Criminal

Posted February 23, 2015

Mobile Device Fraud Makes Up a Disproportionate Share of the $6 Billion Fraud Costs Merchants and Card Issuers in the U.S. Each Year

Forrester Research says mobile payments accounted for $52 billion worth of U.S. transactions in 2014, up from $32 billion in 2013. And this year that number is expected to hit $67 billion.

A LexisNexis survey of 1,100 companies found that while mobile payments account for 14 percent of transactions among merchants, they make up 21 percent of fraud cases. In her story on bloomberg.com, Olga Kharif details how cyberthieves have continued to shift their focus to mobile devices. The following has been excerpted from her piece and edited to fit our format. You may find her complete article by clicking on this link.

More mobile fraud than on PCs

“We certainly see a surge in mobile payment attacks,” says Tomer Barel, chief risk officer at PayPal, who says his company deals with more cases of fraud on mobile devices than on PCs. “There are many more avenues for fraudsters to try.”

Every dollar of mobile fraud costs merchants $3.34

Each dollar worth of misbegotten mobile payments winds up costing a fooled merchant $3.34. That’s slightly more than the cost of a fraudulent credit card swipe or mail order, 27 percent more than a similar payment made from a PC.

Merchants aren’t equipped to handle mobile fraud

Along with the cost of lost merchandise, the total includes investigation of the fraud. That’s tougher on phones than on PCs, because many businesses aren’t equipped to track mobile devices’ unique identifiers such as IP addresses. Stores often don’t catch when a card issued in Los Angeles is used for a mobile order from Mexico, says Aaron Press, director of e-commerce and payments at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. “It’s kind of a wake-up call,” he says.

Lower-tech fraud

Some mobile fraud remains low-tech. Last year, the Better Business Bureau warned consumers about a scam in which people posted absurdly cheap offers for used cars online, then tricked interested buyers into wiring funds through a phony version of Google Wallet.

Higher-tech fraud

Other frauds are more technical, such as the hackers who found a bug in a Chilean public transportation app that let them top off their travel credits for free.

The weak link

Like the brief flurry of duplicate charges that accompanied Apple Pay’s debut in October, such glitches highlight the vulnerability inherent in a system that requires banks, card networks, and software makers to keep pace with thieves. “If you don’t make the proper investment, they’ll be attracted to the weakest link,” says PayPal’s Barel.

Biometrics may stop some cybercriminals

Smartphone operating systems, at least, are tougher to infiltrate than those of PCs. Phones with biometric sensors can also make a person’s identity tougher to steal. Mobile payment service LoopPay says it’s adding support for biometric features such as Apple’s fingerprint reader, despite hackers’ claims that they can fool the iPhone’s sensor. Rival CurrentC says it’s considering similar measures….

“There’s no perfect system,” says Will Graylin, chief executive officer of LoopPay. “It’s always a game of cat and mouse.”



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