DSW balances customer convenience and fraud prevention

NRF PROTECT 2022 Speaker Spotlight: Linda M. Campbell

Customers are constantly looking to obtain products faster, easier and cheaper. Unfortunately for retailers, thieves are too.

“With the increase of new omnichannel functions such as curbside pickup, self-checkout and store fulfillment, customers’ shopping habits have changed,” says Linda M. Campbell, director of asset protection for DSW / Designer Brands. “The customer wants their product faster, easier and cheaper. The same holds true for our non-paying customers. They are researching resale value for profit versus individual benefit.”

Over her 25-year career in loss prevention, Campbell has moved from the grocery industry and big box to luxury department stores and specialty retail. A Certified Forensic Interviewer, she has conducted investigations for hundreds of cases ranging from associate relations, internal dishonesty and ORC to retail fraud and homicide.

Now she’s bringing her expertise to NRF’s premier retail security event, NRF PROTECT 2022, to be held June 21-23 in Cleveland. Campbell will join the Great Outdoors Group’s Keith Thompson for a session created in collaboration with Card Not Present, “Refund and policy abuse: Why fraud teams must expand their role in organizations.”

Campbell spoke with NRF about new retail schemes on the horizon and how retailers can protect themselves.

How has retail fraud changed because of COVID-19?

For the first time ever, we shut our doors to the public. No customers. We had to pivot and make the best out of the situation. We were fortunate to have a business that was relevant during a time of change and delivered to our customers.

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What new schemes do you see on the horizon?

Increase in ORC has been in our news daily. The method remains the same but the scheme to resell at a higher value has been ever-changing. Everyone is looking for a deal. Sometimes if the deal is too good to be true, it often is. With [opportunities for] resale into the marketplace, stolen product is often being resold. This is difficult to validate and prosecute.

How can retailers fight back against return, refund and policy abuses without disrupting the customer experience?

Remember that a customer (traditional and digital) is behind every transaction. Most customers are good paying customers. A small percentage are not. In order to truly fight back, we need to understand normal behavior. Any questionable transactions that deviate from the norm should be reviewed and monitored. This is easy to act on when using prescriptive analytics.

In competitive markets, customer convenience is number one. The fight against fraud should take place with research, as opposed to store-level policies that risk alienating good paying customers.

What can LP and fraud departments do to engage leadership and other areas of the business in fighting these abuses?

Accurate reporting and overcommunication of the abuses to your supervisor and leadership is the first step. With the current climate in the news, leadership is more receptive to potential solution and may be more inclined to help press for local legislation and increased law enforcement support in your communities.

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