As part of the Emailage, a LexisNexis Risk Solutions Company, Pop Up Webinar series, Eric Choi, Senior Vice President of Marketing interviewed Harshad Agashe, Vice President of Product to talk about ways to outsmart fraud in the age of pandemic. The transcript below features their conversation and has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Eric Choi: Welcome to this week’s Pop Up Webinar. Today’s topic is Outsmarting Fraud in the Age of Pandemic with Emailage, a LexisNexis Risk Solutions Company. My name is Eric Choi, I am the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Emailage. Today we’re talking with Harshad Agashe who leads our Emailage product team. 

Harshad Agashe: Thank you, Eric. I am the Vice President of Product Management at Emailage, a LexisNexis Risk Solutions Company. My primary focus is to drive the product road map for the organization. Figuring out what are the key outcomes our customers are looking at and what features should we build in our product to deliver those effectively.

Eric Choi: So I think one of the questions which we want to answer today is how is COVID-19 impacting fraud claims, and what are customers looking at in the age of pandemic?

Harshad Agashe: As product professionals, we always look at changing behaviors of our customers, and we look at creating features and experiences which will adapt to those changing behaviors. The other thing that we do is that we produce products we want to be adopted. Product professionals also nudge customers to change their behavior, too. 

Changing Behaviors 

Eric Choi: What’s an example of product changing behavior?

Harshad Agashe: As an example, when you look at smartphones, it took us almost five or 10 years to get to a stage where we are using it day in, day out. That became a part of our life. In our case, which is Emailage, a LexisNexis Risk Solutions Company, we started talking about using email as a digital identifier seven years back. It took us quite some time to get customers to accept email as a key part of that identifier and use it in risk prevention. And we’ve done it successfully. 

But to contrast that, what is happening right now is that because of COVID-19, you’re seeing a massive change of customer behavior in a very short period of time. And what that means is that typical markers, which we use for predicting good and bad behaviors of our customers, is changing so rapidly that those static [risk] models may not work for us anymore. 

Eric Choi: So how are those changing? 

Harshad Agashe: We focus on some of these behavior changes and tie those behavior changes to the changing variables. When I say variables, it’s the variables that go into risk models on our network. And then we say, “Okay. Based on those changes, how do we react to those?” 

The key point here, though, is that the bottom line for all our customers is that they want a good customer experience at this stage, especially in the States. Because if somebody is coming to an e-commerce merchant for the first time and they are unable to process their transaction, when they really need it, I think that’s the point in time where they start losing complete interest in a retailer or in a business. 

Eric Choi: Oh, yeah, in my own life e-commerce purchase volume has gone up. 

The Age of an Email

Harshad Agashe: Exactly. And the reduction in amounts is also interesting because people are buying a lot of smaller ticket items. So, they may not be buying too many laptops, but they’re definitely buying things like games or maybe digital goods, something like that. So what we need these days is another variable like email tenure. When I say email tenure what it means is: how long have we seen this email on our network? This is a very good proxy to the existence of the email, which means what is the age of the email. It’s a good proxy to risk. Typically, we see that good consumers have their email for a very long time. So, Eric, just out of curiosity, how long have you had your personal email with you? 

Eric Choi: You mean, my personal email that I use to book online travel, to receive my bank account statements? I want to say like fifteen years. 

Harshad Agashe: Fifteen years! Typically customers have an email for at least three years. Around 90% of them have their e-mails for at least three years. Now, using a global network, I’ll be able to look at things like: how is this email tenure changing for different industries? 

How #StayingIn Changes Fraud Variables

Harshad Agashe: Let’s look at another variable, which is very interesting, IP distance. This is essentially saying: what is the distance between your billing address and between the address of which is associated with your IP address?

Because we are in lockdown, people are at home. People who would be ordering things from their offices and traveling would ordering from their home computers in bed. They will have the same [IP and] billing address. 

So then we asked ourselves, what happens when you look at a city in complete lock down, like New York. 

Eric Choi: So does this mean that the New Yorkers are actually paying attention to the mandatory stay at home order since the billing IP address and the distance are very, very close?

Harshad Agashe: We think it means that. The second thing is they also travel for their work. And the third thing is, travel more generally and today they’re not traveling at all. 

Three Tips for Preventing Fraud in the Age of Pandemic

Eric Choi: OK. So let’s go to your three tips to prevent fraud in the age of pandemic 

Harshad Agashe: Rather than looking at individual variables and how they’re changing, start looking at the person behind the transaction: look at how email IP for known shipping address, billing address, name, credit card and if you have it, device I.D. How are they linked? And is this a good customer or somebody you’ve seen in the past using digital identities to commit fraud is? That’s that’s my first tip. 

The second step is to be prepared for higher bogus claims on chargebacks — and what I mean is friendly fraud. 

The third thing is use tools that are dynamic which adjust the which adjust to new attack. So what I mean is, as you look at changing behaviors from customers, who are changing behaviors faster. Now they’ll be trying to find loopholes. But dynamic, which can adjust to these changes and can react really quickly to catch fraud tactics. 

Eric Choi: All right. Thank you Harshad, thank you very much for joining us on this week’s Emailage Pop Up Webinar. So on that note, everyone, please be safe out there! We’ll see you next time. Thanks very much. 

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