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How B2B Sellers Can Win the Arms Race Against Cyber Criminals

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Online buying has derailed traditional buyer-seller relationships. In days past, B2B sellers based credit extensions on trust. Today, those extensions are often made without ever coming face-to-face—opening up a Pandora’s box of potential fraudulent activity.

In an effort to combat fraud, B2B sellers have significantly increased the amount of buyer data they must gather before onboarding a customer. A potential pitfall of this is human error; a customer may accidentally set off a fraud-detection system by incorrectly entering data, resulting in a seller rejecting their application instead of accepting it. The seller must then recapture the data, which further delays the onboarding process. Additionally, another downside to this increased use of data is application fraud and the additional vulnerability if an account is compromised.

Easy access to data simplifies application fraud

In a highly digital environment, public information about companies is broadly available. Criminals can easily gather information like phone numbers and addresses of a company’s board of directors and change minute details so the data appears correct when they fill out the form. They wouldn’t change an entire phone number or address—that would be too easy to catch. Instead, hackers might change a single letter in an email address, making it difficult for sellers to spot the difference when manually evaluating customer data.

For example, when customers commit application fraud, pretending to be another business, they might sign up for monthly billing and 60-day terms. In this scenario, a customer could commit months of fraud, and the seller would detect the fraud only when it tries to collect payment when that customer’s first bill becomes due. By that point, the seller could be out hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It’s an arms race in many ways: Fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated criminals, adept at figuring out the gaps in sellers’ onboarding processes and taking advantage of those weaknesses. On the other side, B2B sellers are left with the challenge of collecting and validating increasing amounts of buyer data.

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