City Furniture finds a seamless way to prevent credit card fraud

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With credit card companies no longer requiring signatures to approve transactions and refusing to enable the use of personal identification numbers with their new chip cards, retailers are increasingly looking for ways to determine whether the customer with a card in their hand is the legitimate cardholder.

Identification authentication company Intellicheck has a solution that some retailers say is helping address the problem.

City Furniture began using Intellicheck’s Retail ID system — which allows a driver’s license to be quickly scanned and checked against a proprietary database — last year. Before that, store managers “did not have any good way of validating whether the customer was who they said they were,” says Garry Ikola, chief sales officer of the Tamarac, Fla.-based retailer.

Today, the Retail ID Mobile application is live in 29 City Furniture Florida showroom stores on the east and west coasts. In addition to its own stores, City Furniture is a licensee of 12 Ashley Furniture HomeStore locations.

“Customers love it,” Ikola says, “and so do our managers because for the first time we have an easy-to-use standardized process for verifying that customers are who they say they are.” He says he instantly liked its simplicity and ease of use.

FACIAL RECOGNITION

City Furniture is one of 45 retail companies currently using the application in about 11,000 stores. In the eight months that City Furniture has been using the Retail ID Mobile version on iPads, it has cut identity fraud losses by more than 33 percent without “slowing down sales transactions,” Ikola says, and while reassuring customers that their identities are protected.

“We had no negative customer feedback.”

Earlier this year, City Furniture went beyond using the system on iPads and began integrating it into their point-of-sale systems, which Intellicheck President and CEO Bryan Lewis says makes it even more effective because sales associates using iPads sometimes forget to run the driver’s license authentication check. When Retail ID Online is integrated into POS systems, the checks become automatic and losses can literally fall to near or at zero, he says.

“It gave us such an easy way of being able to take a photograph of a driver’s license, and swiftly check it against the software’s proprietary database.” — Garry Ikola, City Furniture

Retail ID allows sales associates to scan the barcode of a driver’s license to instantly authenticate the license. The Retail ID app seamlessly encrypts the driver license image and matches the image against authentic driver license formats from Intellicheck’s proprietary ID Check database.

“We can determine that a license 100 percent meets the specifications of the jurisdiction that offered it,” Lewis says, “Canadian drivers licenses, military IDs, all U.S. state driver licenses as well as Mexican matricula cards.”

For retailers who suffer fraud from people who steal small-but-expensive items from stores and then try to return them without a receipt, Intellicheck can authenticate IDs to stop that form of fraud as well.

Intellicheck is also in the process of developing an application that will give online retailers facial recognition capability.

“An online retailer can have a customer scan the back of a driver’s license and scan the front, so the retailer now has a picture of the license,” Lewis says.

“Then they can ask the customer to take a selfie of themselves, so they now have an actual picture and can compare it to the driver’s license picture and look for a match. Then we can prove that it is an authentic license and that it is in the control of the customer trying to make a purchase online.”

He says Intellicheck is “stopping a fraudulent transaction about every 90 seconds.”

REDUCING LOSSES

Now that City Furniture has been evaluating Retail ID for almost a year, Ikola says management is rolling it out to all stores in Florida with plans to expand into other markets.

“Definitely our losses are down this year. We’ve had good growth and we’re seeing less losses.”

City Furniture will soon be using Retail ID to authenticate the processing of credit card applications in addition to verifying credit card purchases.

Ikola says management saw a return on their Retail ID investment within “just a few months. It doesn’t take many transactions to save on the software.”

He believes any retailer could adopt a program like Retail ID. In City Furniture’s case, “timing was everything. Here we had the iPads and an application that all we had to do was put a photo of a driver’s license into the iPads. How difficult could that be?”

City Furniture “is very sensitive to our customers, so we tested it to make sure we wouldn’t get any push back. And our people were trained to explain what we were doing and that we weren’t retaining any information,” he says.

“We didn’t get any pushback at all. Our customers appreciated what we were doing to protect their identity.”

Liz Parks is a Union City, N.J.-based writer with extensive experience reporting on retail, pharmacy and technology issues.

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