Online retailers in the U.K. are easy pickings for credit card thefts, according to a survey published by Experian Information Solutions.
Lack of online fraud detection systems and a police force ill-equipped to handle the new technology are two reasons why those engaging in credit card fraud are easily stealing information from British Web sites, Experian said in a statement.
The global information services company contacted 800 online retailers in its survey on the extent of Internet fraud, Experian said.
According to two-thirds of survey respondents, it took more than a month before online credit card crime was detected.
Furthermore, in 40 percent of cases, the criminal had struck the same site more than once before disappearing, Experian said.
A whopping nine of every 10 online credit card criminals get away with their illegal activity and, to add insult to injury, put very little effort into covering up their tracks, the survey found.
In 10 percent of the cases surveyed, the criminal set up a false telephone account. More often that not, credit card numbers were stolen from an e-commerce site, after which the criminal purchased items online and had them sent to an address more difficult to trace to the miscreant. Post-office boxes, addresses of acquaintances and the like are often used.
Only 9 percent of the crimes reported by online retailers to the police currently lead to a prosecution, Experian said.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that only 57 percent of the surveyed online traders said they had reported fraud to the police, and when they did attempt to file reports, over half encountered a lack of police interest, Experian said.
In terms of cost, the survey found that 20 percent of online retailers are suffering fraud charge-back levels from the credit card companies, equaling about 1 percent of retailers' total sales, with some going as high as 10 percent of total online sales. Experian noted that such levels of fraud are considerably higher than the credit card crime suffered by traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.
The company stressed that it is key for online retailers to invest in ways to authenticate a user's identity in real time.