“Wow, I've been a victim of fraud for 10 days and didn't even know it until now. Holy crap.” (A random Twitter user reporting)
During FraudSciences’ fraud operations days I was never keen on letting analysts and agents call people who were defrauded. Old school credit card users, who have had their details stolen, were never too happy hearing about it from someone they didn’t know, calling from another country and sounding like the fraudster himself - with a thick accent and all of their personal data at hand. It didn’t help that the company was called FraudSciences either, but that’s a completely different story. As time went on it became clear that most users we encountered preferred that fraud be dealt with out of their sight. They didn’t want to know about, or be involved in, any process regarding their identity being stolen. Sure, we’ve had the occasional angry customer calling back to understand whether we know the person’s name, who they were and their whereabouts to get even (and even had one person explaining that she always suspected her next-cube neighbor at the office), but generally speaking – no involvement. And we were completely fine continuing to work, undisturbed.
Then came the social explosion. It was there all along, but suddenly everyone, not only Silicon Valley early adopters, were involved in some “social” thingie. And communication flourished, and status lines abundance came, and now people are all over what’s happening to them, to their financials, to every aspect of their lives. And they want control, and they want to talk about it. They want to TWEET about it. They want to update their status in FaceBook and get sympathy for their ID being stolen. And they need their information NOW.
Great then, why not, let them get SMS updates about their account status. But it goes beyond that.
It does so because financial institutes finally started grasping the value in having users connected to the system all the time. Much like ESP games, which I have referred to in the past, why not use the masses’ computational powers for fraud alert? For trend recognition? This goes way beyond installing VPN clients, using security keys or calling CS when someone used your card. When a company like Visa builds an Android app that allows you to monitor your account, it creates a massive real time ability to fight fraudulent activity. With PayPal’s developer platform open for business, and with features rolled live all the time, developers have the knowledge of a good chunk of eCommerce at the tip of their keyboard. When this opens to two-way communications and enable connections to social networks (and I’m sure it will, soon enough), we will have the community brain helping the professionals in their war against internet crime and fraud. And as much as I value this domain, you can’t turn away this kind of ability for claims of secrecy and of ignorance being bliss for the masses; they want to know, they want to get involved, and they are here to stay.