Authentication in E-commerce: Proving Sally Isnt Sam

When I hear people say that shopping is fun, it blows my mind. I really consider getting a tooth pulled to be a more worthwhile event. Going to the store for a purchase often equals long lines and headaches. Thank goodness for the Internet! It has created a more efficient, less time consuming way of commerce, but it does bring with it a new terror. At a time when there is an estimated 10,000 identity theft rings in the U.S. alone, the lack of authentication in ecommerce is more than a little alarming.

So what is the real solution? Obviously, no one wants to verify their full nine-digit social security number when purchasing a new flat screen, but I believe that most individuals would welcome some added security with their purchases. To understand the complexity of the problem, we have to recognize that there is a big difference between verifying an individuals information and authenticating it. A company may be able to match the name and billing address of an individual with a credit card. This would mean that information has been verified, but how do I know that John Doe is really John Doe?

Some e-commerce companies have taken steps to remedy this problem by only shipping to the billing address of the credit card. While this is a good practice, it is not a viable, long-term answer. In some cases of credit card theft, the perpetrators have actually shipped packages to the correct billing address of the individual and intercepted the package from their porch. The real key in combating ecommerce fraud is having proper authentication systems in place at the point of sale.

Many online retailers are recognizing the need for this protection for their customers and themselves. In response they are implementing methods, such as Knowledge Based Authentication to truly authenticate their consumers. This offers peace of mind to the individual and prevents significant loss to the company. The real question is when are more ecommerce shopping carts going to follow suite and show that they are serious about fraud prevention? When that day comes it will be a positive and welcomed change to merchants and customers alike.

[Contributed by Shea Allen, Account Specialist]