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How to Protect Your Business From Online Fraud

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The following content is sponsored by Equifax.


Online Fraud

How to Protect Your Business From Online Fraud

COVID-19 has created a watershed moment in the shift to digital, triggering a wave of online fraud in the process.

Direct messages can be accessed, and passwords changed—with critical infrastructure at stake. By way of social engineering, perpetrators exploit human weakness and vulnerabilities. It raises an unsettling prospect: as the world becomes increasingly digital, what does this mean for security?

Leveraging a rich dataset, this infographic from Equifax unearths several new trends in digital fraud, and shows how businesses can prevent online scams without impacting user experience.

Understanding How Online Fraud Affects You

Here are just a few of the trends impacting lenders, service providers, and the U.S. government.

Credit Cards

Credit card fraud is not a new phenomenon. The COVID-19 era, however, has accelerated it for both businesses and consumers. Credit card fraud on new accounts has spiked 88% since 2018, impacting roughly 250,000 U.S. individuals. This is where scammers use a stolen, synthetic identity to open a new account and maximize credit limits.

Meanwhile, consumers are turning to ecommerce experiences more so than ever before to purchase necessities, entertainment, and more. This means shopping with new vendors and making more card-not-present purchases.

With an increase in transactions comes an increase in chargebacks, either from friendly fraud or legitimate disputes. It’s something that hasn’t gone unnoticed: In fact, 40% of businesses have noticed an increase in chargebacks since January of 2020.

Number of Victims

Overall, the number of fraud victims has jumped 20% according to reported fraud victim alerts. In 2019, the most reported fraud alerts affected those aged between 60-69, with an average of $600 in losses.

AgePercentage of LossesMedian LossTotal Losses
19 and under3%$200$14M
20-2913%$448$124M
30-3916%$379$168M
40-4915%$410$178M
50-5916%$500$186M
60-6920%$600$223M
70-7912%$800$150M
80 and over5%$1,600$72M
Total (across all age groups)100%$448$1,115M

*Based on 1,697,934 fraud reports in 2019, with 51% including age information
Source: Federal Trade Commission (Jan, 2020)

Now, fraudsters are using phishing schemes and COVID-19 scams by setting up fake websites with false COVID-19 information.

Synthetic Identity Risk

Often used in credit card fraud, synthetic identity theft happens when criminals construct a fake identity—based on both real and fake information—to make fraudulent purchases. Synthetic identity fraud can include account piggybacking, setting up a fake business, or teaming up with corrupt merchants. Scams that manipulate people with good credit have shot up 36% since 2018.

Authorized User Abuse

As the pandemic has unfolded, authorized user abuse has increased more than 20%.

Authorized user abuse occurs when low-risk primary card owners “rent” their tradelines with extensive credit histories, high credit limits and solid repayment profiles to others, often, knowingly, to fraudsters.

So how can businesses protect themselves against these increasingly sophisticated tactics?

Navigating the Right Balance

Preventing fraud is simple: stop accepting transactions or allowing new account creation. But, that stifles business growth. More friction isn’t the answer either. Businesses need to navigate the balance of delivering seamless experience and fraud prevention.

To improve online security for any business, it’s important to understand the consumer lifecycle journey. Typically, pain points across this cycle fall within two camps: customer experience or security protections.

TypePain PointSolution
Customer experienceDelivering an optimal experience
  • Businesses can ask consumers to supply less personal information


  • Apply behind-the-scenes data collection to verify identity


  • Conduct passive checks, which collect data without direct interaction with the end user, before verifying identity

  • SecurityRegistration

  • Utilize identity information to streamline the registration/sign-up process, which can reduce the amount of input a consumer needs to input

  • Log-in or Authentication
  • Leverage device facial recognition, fingerprints for login ease

  • Payment
  • Use digital signals such as device or location without compromising risk

  • As a result, these can improve businesses’ monetization value and help the bottom line.

    Pinpointing these specific, layered solutions can make the difference between winning over a new customer or not—without sacrificing your security.

    Online Fraud: What Happens Next?

    Still, striking the right balance between customer experience and security can be challenging.

    But when these solutions are implemented, a 73% drop in fraud report incidents is reported by some users. Along with this, a double-digit jump in credit approvals takes place, while overhead costs linked to expensive application reviews sink 30%.

    To mitigate threats and prevent consumer bottlenecks, businesses can apply solutions such as:

    • Account verification
    • Digital identity trust
    • Document verification
    • Multi-factor authentication

    Further, businesses can look to establish the level of trust or risk at every interaction across the customer journey, from account creation and login to payment transaction.

    High-trust interactions can move along a seamless, VIP experience, while riskier interactions can be dynamically challenged with friction. A vast identity trust network combined with adaptive AI helps businesses to make appropriate decisions at each interaction. This protects both the business and customer experience.

    Combined, they provide the early warning technology that thwarts online fraud and digital attacks—with lasting implications for businesses in the COVID-19 digital era.

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    An Introduction to MSCI ESG Indexes

    With an extensive suite of ESG indexes on offer, MSCI aims to support investors as they build a more personalized and resilient portfolio.

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    An Introduction to MSCI ESG Indexes

    There are various portfolio objectives within the realm of sustainable investing.

    For example, some investors may want to build a portfolio that reflects their personal values. Others may see environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria as a tool for improving long-term returns, or as a way to create positive impact. A combination of all three of these motivations is also possible.

    To support investors as they embark on their sustainable journey, our sponsor, MSCI, offers over 1,500 purpose-built ESG indexes. In this infographic, we’ll take a holistic view at what these indexes are designed to achieve.

    An Extensive Suite of ESG & Climate Indexes

    Below, we’ll summarize the four overarching objectives that MSCI’s ESG & climate indexes are designed to support.

    Objective 1: Integrate a broad set of ESG issues

    Investors with this objective believe that incorporating ESG criteria can improve their long-term risk-adjusted returns.

    The MSCI ESG Leaders indexes are designed to support these investors by targeting companies that have the highest ESG-rated performance from each sector of the parent index.

    For those who do not wish to deviate from the parent index, the MSCI ESG Universal indexes may be better suited. This family of indexes will adjust weights according to ESG performance to maintain the broadest possible universe.

    Objective 2: Generate social or environmental benefits

    A common challenge that impact investors face is measuring their non-financial results.

    Consider an asset owner who wishes to support gender diversity through their portfolios. In order to gauge their success, they would need to regularly filter the entire investment universe for updates regarding corporate diversity and related initiatives.

    In this scenario, linking their portfolios to an MSCI Women’s Leadership Index would negate much of this groundwork. Relative to a parent index, these indexes aim to include companies which lead their respective countries in terms of female representation.

    Objective 3: Exclude controversial activities

    Many institutional investors have mandates that require them to avoid certain sectors or industries. For example, approximately $14.6 trillion in institutional capital is in the process of divesting from fossil fuels.

    To support these efforts, MSCI offers indexes that either:

    • Exclude individual sectors such as fossil fuels, tobacco, or weapons;
    • Exclude companies from a combination of these sectors; or
    • Exclude companies that are not compatible with certain religious values.

    Objective 4: Identify climate risks and opportunities

    Climate change poses a number of wide-reaching risks and opportunities for investors, making it difficult to tailor a portfolio accordingly.

    With MSCI’s climate indexes, asset owners gain the tools they need to build a more resilient portfolio. The MSCI Climate Change indexes, for example, reduce exposure to stranded assets, increase exposure to solution providers, and target a minimum 30% reduction in emissions.

    An Index for Every Objective

    Regardless of your motivation for pursuing sustainable investment, the need for an appropriate benchmark is something that everyone shares.

    With an extensive suite of ESG indexes designed specifically for sustainability and climate change, MSCI aims to support asset owners as they build a more unique and personalized portfolio.

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    Tracked: The U.S. Utilities ESG Report Card

    This graphic acts as an ESG report card that tracks the ESG metrics reported by different utilities in the U.S.—what gets left out?

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    NPUC Utilities ESG Report Card Share

    Tracked: The U.S. Utilities ESG Report Card

    As emissions reductions and sustainable practices become more important for electrical utilities, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting is coming under increased scrutiny.

    Once seen as optional by most companies, ESG reports and sustainability plans have become commonplace in the power industry. In addition to reporting what’s needed by regulatory state laws, many utilities utilize reporting frameworks like the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI) ESG Initiative or the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards.

    But inconsistent regulations, mixed definitions, and perceived importance levels have led some utilities to report significantly more environmental metrics than others.

    How do U.S. utilities’ ESG reports stack up? This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council tracks the ESG metrics reported by 50 different U.S. based investor-owned utilities (IOUs).

    What’s Consistent Across ESG Reports

    To complete the assessment of U.S. utilities, ESG reports, sustainability plans, and company websites were examined. A metric was considered tracked if it had concrete numbers provided, so vague wording or non-detailed projections weren’t included.

    Of the 50 IOU parent companies analyzed, 46 have headquarters in the U.S. while four are foreign-owned, but all are regulated by the states in which they operate.

    For a few of the most agreed-upon and regulated measures, U.S. utilities tracked them almost across the board. These included direct scope 1 emissions from generated electricity, the utility’s current fuel mix, and water and waste treatment.

    Another commonly reported metric was scope 2 emissions, which include electricity emissions purchased by the utility companies for company consumption. However, a majority of the reporting utilities labeled all purchased electricity emissions as scope 2, even though purchased electricity for downstream consumers are traditionally considered scope 3 or value-chain emissions:

    • Scope 1: Direct (owned) emissions.
    • Scope 2: Indirect electricity emissions from internal electricity consumption. Includes purchased power for internal company usage (heat, electrical).
    • Scope 3: Indirect value-chain emissions, including purchased goods/services (including electricity for non-internal use), business travel, and waste.

    ESG Inconsistencies, Confusion, and Unimportance

    Even putting aside mixed definitions and labeling, there were many inconsistencies and question marks arising from utility ESG reports.

    For example, some utilities reported scope 3 emissions as business travel only, without including other value chain emissions. Others included future energy mixes that weren’t separated by fuel and instead grouped into “renewable” and “non-renewable.”

    The biggest discrepancies, however, were between what each utility is required to report, as well as what they choose to. That means that metrics like internal energy consumption didn’t need to be reported by the vast majority.

    Likewise, some companies didn’t need to report waste generation or emissions because of “minimal hazardous waste generation” that fell under a certain threshold. Other metrics like internal vehicle electrification were only checked if the company decided to make a detailed commitment and unveil its plans.

    As pressure for the electricity sector to decarbonize continues to increase at the federal level, however, many of these inconsistencies are roadblocks to clear and direct measurements and reduction strategies.

    National Public Utilities Council is the go-to resource for all things decarbonization in the utilities industry. Learn more.

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