Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses

The table below summarizes the responses to check and card fraud, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

Working With Businesses
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
1 Raising responsibility awareness Local businesses and card issuers are encouraged to take more responsibility for preventing fraud …police emphasize the community costs of fraud to merchants Many security, card-issuing, and verification policies are dictated by national and international card issuers, bankers, and retail chains, making it difficult to change local practices
2 Increasing the reporting of fraud Data collection allows police to determine the extent of the problem in their area …it is combined with a preventive program (see response #3) The media may portray increased reporting of incidents as a "crime wave" demanding a police crackdown, rather then an aid to planned preventive procedures
3 Verifying checks, cards, and users Retailers with high check or card fraud losses are targeted, and verification procedures are established …verification procedures are integrated into the established checkout practices, and an evaluation demonstrates cost- effectiveness Merchants may resist spending money on verification, especially if it requires investing in new technology and changing checkout procedures
4 Training checkout staff Regular staff training raises awareness about fraud prevention …police establish a close, trusting relationship with businesses and clearly communicate goals Merchants may distrust police attempts to participate in staff training sessions
5 Reducing card application fraud Vacant residences and newly occupied residences where credit card information may be sent are identified …police work closely with postal employees and real estate agencies to ensure that mail is not delivered to unoccupied residences, and is forwarded to the appropriate people Vacant residences may be in several different mail- delivery areas, requiring extensive coordination with the post office
6 Using information to fight online card fraud Specified websites alert users to online fraud …police provide prevention and enforcement information to small local businesses It is difficult to evaluate this response's effect on online fraud, since it is primarily directed at enhancing police-business relations; generally, preventing online fraud is beyond the means of local police
7 Tracking products Police work with delivery companies, local retailers, and Neighborhood Watch to monitor product delivery and product returns …manufacturers, retailers, and delivery companies use new tracking technology Cost-effectiveness may be difficult to determine; tracking may work in reducing related crimes such as shoplifting and theft of items in transit
8 Raising perceptions of wrongdoing and risk Retailers post warning signs at checkouts …retailers keep records of check and card fraud both before and after posting signs, to measure their effectiveness Merchants may resist this response, inexpensive though it is, for fear that it will have a negative effect on law-abiding customers
Community Partnerships
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
9 Educating cardholders Educational programs teach people to avoid victimization by taking simple precautions …it is combined with crime prevention education about a variety of crimes for which they may be targeted This response requires considerable cooperation from community groups and schools
10 Publicizing costs of fraud The media are used to publicize the financial and human costs of fraud …police work with businesses and the media to craft stories that emphasize crime prevention Stories of victimization may affect businesses negatively; media treatment of stories and information may be unpredictable; effectiveness is probably not measurable
11 Collaborating with colleges Police encourage colleges to establish responsible-use policies for computing facilities, to minimize hacking …it is combined with crime prevention education about a variety of crimes for which they may be targeted Effectiveness is difficult to measure, and depends on colleges' willingness to invite local police to their campuses to help solve crime problems
Enforcement
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
12 Monitoring fencing outlets, pawnshops, and online auctions Police work with businesses to develop strategies to track goods that may be stolen …police acquire extensive local and regional knowledge of known fencing and pawnshop operations Local businesses must cooperate in identifying and tracking goods
13 Monitoring chat rooms, bulletin boards, and bogus websites Police conduct surveillance of crime-facilitating Internet venues …police get help from ISPs and computer crime experts It is difficult to determine whether online fraudsters live in your area
14 Targeting high- risk merchants Police determine what stores have high rates of fraud and focus their efforts on them …police work with business associations to collect information if incident data are not available Information-sharing requires a long-term, trusting relationship between police and businesses
15 Getting help from experts Experts on fraud provide information and skills that may help with local problems …police network with professional security consultants and fraud squads at the local, regional, and national level Fraud squads may be investigation- rather than problem-oriented
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
16 Conducting crackdowns Police conduct very public, intensive campaigns to catch fraudsters   Merchants may fear that crackdowns will drive business away
17 Implementing business watch Businesses set up programs similar to Neighborhood Watch …programs are focused on specific crimes, rather than crime in general Businesses must have clear crime-prevention goals
18 Handling offenders through means other than the criminal justice system Police and/or businesses issue offenders warnings, require victim compensation, and/or require counseling rather than make formal criminal reports   This response has usually been used with juveniles who have committed other offenses; it has not been evaluated for check and card fraud
19 Conducting publicity campaigns Police alone publicize fraud risks …it is combined with the implementation of practical security measures Research has not shown this response, alone, to be effective