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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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    Ranked: Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

    Roughly 25% of all GHG emissions come from electricity production. See how the top 30 IOUs rank by emissions per capita.

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    Emissions per Capita of the Top 30 U.S. Investor-Owned Utilities

    Approximately 25% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) come from electricity generation.

    Subsequently, this means investor-owned utilities (IOUs) will have a crucial role to play around carbon reduction initiatives. This is particularly true for the top 30 IOUs, where almost 75% of utility customers get their electricity from.

    This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council ranks the largest IOUs by emissions per capita. By accounting for the varying customer bases they serve, we get a more accurate look at their green energy practices. Here’s how they line up.

    Per Capita Rankings

    The emissions per capita rankings for the top 30 investor-owned utilities have large disparities from one another.

    Totals range from a high of 25.8 tons of CO2 per customer annually to a low of 0.5 tons.

    UtilityEmissions Per Capita (CO2 tons per year)Total Emissions (M)
    TransAlta25.816.3
    Vistra22.497.0
    OGE Energy21.518.2
    AES Corporation19.849.9
    Southern Company18.077.8
    Evergy14.623.6
    Alliant Energy14.414.1
    DTE Energy14.229.0
    Berkshire Hathaway Energy14.057.2
    Entergy13.840.5
    WEC Energy13.522.2
    Ameren12.831.6
    Duke Energy12.096.6
    Xcel Energy11.943.3
    Dominion Energy11.037.8
    Emera11.016.6
    PNM Resources10.55.6
    PPL Corporation10.428.7
    American Electric Power9.250.9
    Consumers Energy8.716.1
    NRG Energy8.229.8
    Florida Power and Light8.041.0
    Portland General Electric7.66.9
    Fortis Inc.6.112.6
    Avangrid5.111.6
    PSEG3.99.0
    Exelon3.834.0
    Consolidated Edison1.66.3
    Pacific Gas and Electric0.52.6
    Next Era Energy Resources01.1

    PNM Resources data is from 2019, all other data is as of 2020

    Let’s start by looking at the higher scoring IOUs.

    TransAlta

    TransAlta emits 25.8 tons of CO2 emissions per customer, the largest of any utility on a per capita basis. Altogether, the company’s 630,000 customers emit 16.3 million metric tons. On a recent earnings call, its management discussed clear intent to phase out coal and grow their renewables mix by doubling their renewables fleet. And so far it appears they’ve been making good on their promise, having shut down the Canadian Highvale coal mine recently.

    Vistra

    Vistra had the highest total emissions at 97 million tons of CO2 per year and is almost exclusively a coal and gas generator. However, the company announced plans for 60% reductions in CO2 emissions by 2030 and is striving to be carbon neutral by 2050. As the highest total emitter, this transition would make a noticeable impact on total utility emissions if successful.

    Currently, based on their 4.3 million customers, Vistra sees per capita emissions of 22.4 tons a year. The utility is a key electricity provider for Texas, ad here’s how their electricity mix compares to that of the state as a whole:

    Energy SourceVistraState of Texas
    Gas63%52%
    Coal29%15%
    Nuclear6%9%
    Renewables1%24%
    Oil1%0%

    Despite their ambitious green energy pledges, for now only 1% of Vistra’s electricity comes from renewables compared to 24% for Texas, where wind energy is prospering.

    Based on those scores, the average customer from some of the highest emitting utility groups emit about the same as a customer from each of the bottom seven, who clearly have greener energy practices. Let’s take a closer look at emissions for some of the bottom scoring entities.

    Utilities With The Greenest Energy Practices

    Groups with the lowest carbon emission scores are in many ways leaders on the path towards a greener future.

    Exelon

    Exelon emits only 3.8 tons of CO2 emissions per capita annually and is one of the top clean power generators across the Americas. In the last decade they’ve reduced their GHG emissions by 18 million metric tons, and have recently teamed up with the state of Illinois through the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Through this, Exelon will receive $700 million in subsidies as it phases out coal and gas plants to meet 2030 and 2045 targets.

    Consolidated Edison

    Consolidated Edison serves nearly 4 million customers with a large chunk coming from New York state. Altogether, they emit 1.6 tons of CO2 emissions per capita from their electricity generation.

    The utility group is making notable strides towards a sustainable future by expanding its renewable projects and testing higher capacity limits. In addition, they are often praised for their financial management and carry the title of dividend aristocrat, having increased their dividend for 47 years and counting. In fact, this is the longest out of any utility company in the S&P 500.

    A Sustainable Tomorrow

    Altogether, utilities will have a pivotal role to play in decarbonization efforts. This is particularly true for the top 30 U.S. IOUs, who serve millions of Americans.

    Ultimately, this means a unique moment for utilities is emerging. As the transition toward cleaner energy continues and various groups push to achieve their goals, all eyes will be on utilities to deliver.

    The National Public Utilities Council is the go-to resource to learn how utilities can lead in the path towards decarbonization.

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    The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

    The U.S. alone generates ∼12 million tons of asphalt shingles tear-off waste and installation scrap every year and more than 90% of it is dumped into landfills.

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    Road to Decarbonization - How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

    The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

    Asphalt, also known as bitumen, has various applications in the modern economy, with annual demand reaching 110 million tons globally.

    Until the 20th century, natural asphalt made from decomposed plants accounted for the majority of asphalt production. Today, most asphalt is refined from crude oil.

    This graphic, sponsored by Northstar Clean Technologies, shows how new technologies to reuse and recycle asphalt can help protect the environment.

    The Impact of Climate Change

    Pollution from vehicles is expected to decline as electric vehicles replace internal combustion engines.

    But pollution from asphalt could actually increase in the next decades because of rising temperatures in some parts of the Earth. When subjected to extreme temperatures, asphalt releases harmful greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere.

    Emissions from Road Construction (Source) CO2 equivalent (%)
    Asphalt 28%
    Concrete18%
    Excavators and Haulers16%
    Trucks13%
    Crushing Plant 10%
    Galvanized Steel 6%
    Reinforced Steel6%
    Plastic Piping 2%
    Geotextile1%

    Asphalt paved surfaces and roofs make up approximately 45% and 20% of surfaces in U.S. cities, respectively. Furthermore, 75% of single-family detached homes in Canada and the U.S. have asphalt shingles on their roofs.

    Reducing the Environmental Impact of Asphalt

    Similar to roads, asphalt shingles have oil as the primary component, which is especially harmful to the environment.

    Shingles do not decompose or biodegrade. The U.S. alone generates ∼12 million tons of asphalt shingles tear-off waste and installation scrap every year and more than 90% of it is dumped into landfills, the equivalent of 20 million barrels of oil.

    But most of it can be reused, rather than taking up valuable landfill space.

    Using technology, the primary components in shingles can be repurposed into liquid asphalt, aggregate, and fiber, for use in road construction, embankments, and new shingles.

    Providing the construction industry with clean, sustainable processing solutions is also a big business opportunity. Canada alone is a $1.3 billion market for recovering and reprocessing shingles.

    Northstar Clean Technologies is the only public company that repurposes 99% of asphalt shingles components that otherwise go to landfills.

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