Small business owners have had enough. They are cracking their knuckles, craning their necks, and whipping out the big guns – metaphorically speaking. Retailers are finally ready to combat their credit card fraudster arch nemeses once and for all.
According to an article that appeared in The Republic earlier this week, retailers are currently working to adopt new technologies to better protect against credit card fraud and counterfeit bills. They are putting tiny, hard-to-spot GPS devices in cargo shipments. They are attaching ink-dispensing tags to designer suits that will splatter ink all over your new outfit if you try to dismantle it without a store associate’s help. The article states that now there is even an alarm tag that can go into the meat soaker pad under a packaged T-bone steak. What’s next?
Retailers are buckling down, and it is just in time. According to the article, retail theft is on the rise, with $37.14 billion lost nationally just last year. This is already almost a 2% increase from 2009 or 1.5% of total retail sales to be exact.
An annual study from the National Retail Federation said that the biggest share of those losses, 44%, was from employee theft, with shoplifting at a close second at 33%.
For small business owners, these deficits can be killer.
The article cited Bill Titus, the loss prevention manager of the Sears Holding Corp. "If you think the last 10 years were turbulent and required our stores to adapt, stand back for the next 10 years," Titus said. "When are flash mobs organized on Twitter going to start stealing from our stores?"
Why have shoplifting and credit card fraud grown worse with time? First Data North Bay, a leader in the credit card processing industry, said that the problem may lie with merchants themselves. They cite four major reasons for this increase in fraud. They deal with sales associates not comparing the signature on the back of the card with the cardholder’s signature at the time of purchase as well as merchants not calling cardholders to confirm major orders. A failure to check the credit card for the hologram (while making sure there are no alteration marks) and sloppily rushing through transactions are additional reasons for the increase.
But while some merchants are giving up, other store owners are more optimistic and are not ready to give in to shoplifting and fraud just yet. In fact, they are raving about a new technology that can change the way loss prevention teams operate forever.
It’s name? Virtual Wallet. It’s availability? Slim – it’s still being tested. It’s effects? Wide-reaching. Virtual Wallet can possibly change the playing field of credit card transactions forever, and, thus, change the world of fraud. Once developed, this technology will allow you to sync your Visa, Discover, and MasterCard to your smartphone. As a result, you may never again need to bring an actual plastic card with you. All your information – bar code, security code, everything, will be safely stored on your mobile device.
This will make it more difficult for criminals to hack into or steal your personal data, loss prevention experts say. In turn, shoplifting and card theft may be dramatically altered. Joe LaRocca, the National Retail Federation's loss prevention staff expert, said that while it won't happen overnight, new technology will have a strong effort in making major retail theft obsolete.