‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year!’ Black Friday marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season in the U.S. The Thanksgiving Day leftovers have barely cooled before we usher in the season of goodwill and gifting.

But, the season is not only lucrative for retailers hoping to make their all-important quarterly  numbers, it’s also peak activity for fraudsters and identity thieves. With Adobe Analytics predicting that $7.5BN will be spent in just one day, hackers and fraudsters are keen to take a piece of the (pumpkin?) pie.

In fact, the threat posed by security and data breaches is such that the U.S. Government has issued a specific warning this year – the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has published a “current activity” statement advising internet users to be extra vigilant. From malware to phishing to online manipulation and fake, fraudulent phone calls – shoppers this year could find they get rather more than they bargain for if they’re not being careful about how, with who and where they shop. And it’s not just consumers who stand to lose out – any retailers falling victim to a breach this holiday season could be feeling the after effects long after the turkey coma has subsided.

In research we conducted with US consumers, 62 percent reported they would stop spending with an organisation for several months following a data breach, and 21 percent claimed they would stop spending with an organisation altogether. To put this in perspective, a 21% drop off in sales would equate to a $1.575BN decrease, and would in effect take retailers back to 2018 sales figures. A 62% drop in sales over the same period would cripple an industry already plagued with trust issues.

All is not lost however, there are some things that retailers can do to make sure they keep all of the magic and mitigate against darker forces at play. These include:

  • Avoid storing customers’ sensitive data so that in the event of a data breach, hackers have nothing to steal
  • Ensure all internal employees are trained on best practices for improving and maintaining their security hygiene
  • Ensure all third party vendors are compliant with data privacy legislation and compliance standards
  • Update application software and operating systems on a regular basis
  • For contact centres and businesses taking Cardholder Not Present (CNP) payments, ensure all transactions are secure and PCI compliant

Before this Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, retailers must take extra steps to ensure customer data is protected and put consumers at ease so they can focus on finding the best deals instead of worrying about their sensitive payment details being stolen. For businesses that take payments over the phone, PCI Pal’s cloud based secure payment solutions can help by descoping your contact center from the requirements of PCI DSS so that customer data never reaches your environment and isn’t accessible to hackers. Contact us today to learn more and Happy Holidays!