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Retailers Losing 1.32 Percent of Revenue to Fraud, up 94 Percent from 2014, According to Annual LexisNexis True Cost of Fraud Study

Mobile Commerce and International Merchants Experiencing Big Losses


ATLANTA – The LexisNexis® True Cost of Fraud℠ study reveals merchants are overwhelmed by increasing revenue losses to fraud. Now in its seventh year, the annual study shows a drastic upswing in retail fraud as merchants lost 1.32 percent of revenue to fraud in 2015 compared to 0.68 percent in 2014. While all merchant segments took a substantial hit on fraud losses as a percentage of revenue, international and mCommerce merchants were hardest hit with 1.56 percent and 1.68 percent lost, respectively.

A concern that appears to be a significant driver of fraud mitigation costs for merchants is that despite the use of automated systems to flag potentially fraudulent transactions, almost half (46 percent) of flagged transactions are still sent for manual review, leaving merchants to render a decision in almost three-quarters of these flagged transactions. Merchants allocate as much as one-fourth of costs dedicated to fraud prevention to manual reviews.

"Manual reviews are time-consuming and expensive, driving more costs into the business and causing customer friction, which can impact overall top-line revenue," said Dennis Becker, vice president, Corporate Markets, LexisNexis® Risk Solutions. "To address both issues, analyzing the solutions and decisions that contribute to the need for manual reviews is critical."

The LexisNexis Fraud Multiplier™, which calculates the total cost per dollar of fraud, hit an all-time low in 2015. The study shows this metric, which includes both direct and indirect costs, declined almost 28 percent, from $3.08 in 2014 to $2.23 in 2015. However, the drop in the overall fraud multiplier is not the good news that it may appear to be at first glance. With the surge in fraud through remote channels, merchants were increasingly liable for a greater portion of chargebacks. This has the effect of driving down the multiplier cost as it increases the direct losses relative to the other fraud-related expenses.

The study also reveals a surge in debit card fraud as fraudsters make a last-ditch effort to use stolen data before the arrival of EMV. Debit card-accepting merchants attributed 30 percent of fraud to this payment type in 2015 compared to 16 percent in 2014.

Qualitative interviews of financial institutions found that many are also contending with the same issues related to fraud being experienced by merchants. Consistent with merchant trends, financial institutions agree that debit card fraud is a growing challenge facing their industry. Financial industry executives are split on their assessment of chargebacks – one executive maintaining that they saw fewer chargebacks from merchants in 2015, another executive asserted success in transferring liability to merchants.

About LexisNexis Risk Solutions
LexisNexis® Risk Solutions harnesses the power of data, sophisticated analytics platforms and technology solutions to provide insights that help businesses across multiple industries and governmental entities reduce risk and improve decisions to benefit people around the globe. Headquartered in metro Atlanta, Georgia, we have offices throughout the world and are part of RELX (LSE: REL/NYSE: RELX), a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. For more information, please visit LexisNexis Risk Solutions and RELX.

Study Methodology
LexisNexis® Risk Solutions conducts the True Cost of Fraud study annually to understand U.S. retail merchant fraud. LexisNexis Risk Solutions partnered with Javelin to field an online survey using a merchant panel comprising 959 risk and fraud decision-makers and influencers. The merchant panel includes representatives of all company sizes, industry segments, channels, and payment methods. The overall margin of sampling error is +/-3.16 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence interval; the margin of error is larger for subsets of respondents. Overall merchant data for all years in the survey history were weighted according to the U.S. Census employee size and industry distribution.

Executive qualitative interviews were also conducted with financial institutions to obtain their perspective on fraud losses. A total of six interviews were completed with risk and fraud executives.

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Marcy Theobald
Senior Director, Global Communications