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Scammers Bust Out the Old-School Hits

230518 Old School Fraud Blog

‘A lot of old tricks are starting to pop up again.’

While the return to the office may have stalled for many workers, there are clear signs of a return to stores for fraudsters. 

After scammers relied on digital tactics during the pandemic, “a lot of old tricks are starting to pop up again,” according to Dustin White, head of U.S. risk at Visa. “Many schemes we knocked down in 2017 to 2019 are coming back.”

The fraud that is re-emerging. Card-present transaction fraud is back, with scammers swiping counterfeit cards loaded with stolen info at the point of purchase. Visa said it was fighting back by “increasing the data available to analyze in-store and digital transactions to recognize unusual patterns.” 

“Friendly fraud”—where customers successfully dispute legitimate card purchases to have them taken off their bill—is also seeing a resurgence, according to American Banker. 

And some scammers are going even deeper into the old-school playbook. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a rise in check fraud. Checks are stolen from mailboxes and then either endorsed with fake signatures or they are “washed”—the recipient and the amount of money gets altered. 

The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has noticed a sharp uptick in check-fraud reports from banks: the 680,000 reports in 2022 are almost double the number from 2021 (350,000). The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the law-enforcement arm of USPS, saw a similar rate of increase in mail theft. 

How banks are responding. Aware of consumer complaints of long waits for resolutions, banks say they are working to find ways to speed up the reimbursement process. The WSJ also noted the industry was looking into improved technology and better communication between big and small banks.