Facility takeover fraud: the latest trend hitting the retail industry


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.’