As the first big gifting day of the New Year approaches, brands have every reason to be on their guard.
Valentine’s Day is but a heartbeat away. It’s another point in the gifting calendar that retailers, hotels and restaurants love. After the traditional January lull following an over-indulging, overspending Christmas, Valentine’s Day is the first point in the year when customers get out their wallets and credit cards again in one concentrated consumer spending spree. Cybercriminals take as much notice as retailers, jumping on the opportunity to launch phishing attacks and malware or sell high-margin counterfeit goods.
Each key shopping date in the calendar can be as perilous as it is profitable, and each one has its own nuance. As we approach the day of love, the brand risks heighten for dating companies and specific gifting businesses, as well as romantic destinations. If you’re a leading online retailer that people turn to for chocolates, flowers, champagne or jewelry, for example, an online fraudster somewhere is out to steal from you.
Valentine’s Day presents an additional attraction for people eager to prey on those looking for love, with the digital environment providing the perfect anonymity for criminals to extract personal information. Dating sites already face a constant battle to protect their genuine customers from unscrupulous users trying to extract cash, credit card numbers or other personal information. Cybercriminals can easily construct fake sites, fake apps or fake personal profiles into which unsuspecting customers do fall. Genuine dating sites have every reason to take down sites or apps that infringe their IP as quickly as possible. Providing the brand’s IP is properly registered, the process is clear: monitor what is being passed off in the brand’s name and take swift enforcement action where necessary.
Protect, monitor and enforce is the CSC Digital Brand Services proven methodology for tackling cybercriminality. But there’s one other aspect too that brands may wish to consider as lovers fill their digital baskets this week, and that’s the need to keep customers alert to the dangers whilst reassuring them that the brand is on their side. The financial services sector has much to teach others in this respect. If any industry is prone to online scams, it’s banking. Fraudsters have become extraordinarily sophisticated in phishing attacks, with enticing emails, impressive fake websites and an ability to extract money or personal information from even the most cautious customers. Now banks put considerable effort into monitoring and enforcing their IP, and into warning customers of the risks. They may not have won the battle, because it is a constant process against cybercriminals who have a profitable occupation to defend. But arguably consumers are more aware of the pitfalls of logging into a site that looks like their bank than they are when booking a romantic weekend away or searching for a new partner.
A communications strategy, alongside comprehensive online monitoring and swift enforcement action can ensure that brands come up smelling of roses. It’s a way of protecting customers as well as enhancing brand reputation.