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How does a soft drink purchase cost a retailer hundreds? It could be happening in your stores right now if you offer cash back with a debit card purchase. We are seeing a particular cash-back scam circulate, and it is something that crops up this time of year as the holiday shopping frenzy kicks into high gear. It poses a significant retail risk, and it can be detected through advanced analytics.

Fraudsters select an overwhelmed cashier, often the busiest or the most inexperienced. Through a couple of transactions, often within minutes of each other, a legitimate receipt is produced, sometimes involving a self-checkout system.

With legitimate receipt in hand, scammers are able to get the maximum cash back by tricking the cashier into thinking he or she made an embarrassing or job-threatening error. They know the value retailers place on creating a good customer experience and take every opportunity to exploit this standard.

If you are an Appriss Retail client, contact your Client Success representative for scam details and the Secure™ Store query that allows you to identify where the scam is happening, which cashiers have been victimized, and techniques you can use to mitigate the impact.

Using Retail Technology to Find the Receipt Fraud

When scammers find a technique that works, they continue to run the fraud. They may hit the same stores over and over at different times of day, operate with multiple unfamiliar perpetrators, or they exploit several of your stores in the same region. Scammers will also exploit multiple retailers and are not particular to one brand.

If your cashier reports an incident, you have good data to start an investigation. If you have not yet received a tip, you can proactively create queries, but you may have to try a few variations on transaction amounts.

One technique is to use your exception based reporting (EBR) system to look for maximum cash-back transactions. (Fraudsters typically demand the maximum value.) Then review the transactions for mis-aligned data points, being careful to distinguish between what is suspicious and what is a good customer service.

If you are an Appriss Retail client, contact your Client Success representative for scam details and the Secure Store query that helps you focus on where the scam is happening, which cashiers are involved, and ways to mitigate your losses.

Use Cashier Coaching to Raise Awareness

Do not wait for scammers to hit your stores; start now and remind your cashiers to be alert for high or maximum cash back requests as well as error accusations. Cash-back is a wonderful option that enhances the customer experience, and it should not be something that makes consumers anxious or hurried. Any time the cashier gives cash back they need to pay attention to details and handle one step at a time.

Fraudsters contesting cash back amounts can usually be thwarted by a cashier who is focused and not afraid to ask a front-end supervisor for assistance. Scammers tend to interrupt the transaction while pressuring the cashier to skip protocol and go straight for the cash. Scammers develop an atmosphere of stress and self-doubt to perpetrate the scam, and they rely on shame and fear of reprisal to prevent the cashier from discussing the problem with the manager.

Cashiers who are victims—whether they provide a tip or are identified by Secure Store analytics—should be targeted for constructive coaching. This can be more productive than firing the associate and hiring another inexperienced cashier who can be exploited.


Infographic: 5 Ways to Improve Associate Training & Customer Service



Leslie Nienaber, Digital Marketing Manager, Appriss Retail 

Leslie researches business trends and distills the information for a retail audience. Her marketing experience has covered a wide variety of industries, including promotional products, microbiology, print, and mail. She spent five years in the retail industry before graduating with her Bachelors in Business Administration from John Carroll University.

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