Working Together: What Works? The Panel That Got Real About Collaboration

As part of the Future of Fraud Management event that took place on February 9th, I had the great pleasure of moderating a panel about a topic near and dear to my heart: Collaboration in fraud prevention. We had a fantastic set of panelists, and what was special about this panel was that each participant grounded every one of their comments and suggestions in a story or experience of their own. 

Meet the Panelists

Samantha M Weeks, Fraud Performance Manager at Chime, has been working in risk and control environments for 10 years, including working with law enforcement to investigate credit card fraud rings and human trafficking - so she really has a fascinating background to draw on. 

Rob McCall, Director of Fraud Prevention at Uphold, has been fighting fraud for more than 15 years, having begun his career at FIS before moving to HSN, and now of course is working in the wild world of cryptocurrency, which has some unique fraud challenges and is often on the cutting edge for new attacks. 

Our own Uri Arad, co-founder and VP Product of Identiq, drew on his own knowledge from working in collaboration with global and visionary merchants at Identiq, and of course from his experiences over nearly a decade at PayPal, where, as he puts it, the fraud team knew that they had a massive target on their backs for any and all new fraud attacks and tricks. 

Together, they’ve seen practically all of the dramatic evolution that’s been seen in payments and e-commerce in recent years. During the panel they shared stories of silos that only serve fraudsters, also but stories of the astonishing success of collaboration at its best. 

In this blog post I pick out some of the main themes of the discussion - but you can also watch the entire recording

Why Collaboration?

As I know from talking to a wide range of fraud fighting professionals during the many interviews I conducted while co-authoring the book Practical Fraud Prevention for O’Reilly, collaboration can make the difference between a fraud prevention team that’s seen as a secret superpower within their company, and a dysfunctional ongoing inter-departmental fight in which customer experience is almost always the victim. 

Sam highlighted that the way to get it right is to ensure everyone on the fraud team and outside it remembers that they’re all working towards the same goal, even though the pieces they see and prioritize may vary. Think of it like a colorful beach ball, with each department a different color stripe - but one ball, going in the same direction. 

Rob pointed out that fraud managers need to invest in presenting the department as revenue drivers, not blockers. The panelists agreed that long-term, sustained effort is needed to build the necessary relationships of partnership, respect and understanding. 

The story that stuck with me from this part of the conversation was from Uri, who talked about how at PayPal, the fraud team were able to proactively approach Product with suggestions about how to streamline the customer login process. He said “the fraud team often knows the customer better than anyone in the company - and you need to remember that you can use that knowledge to remove friction, and make life easy for good customers.” 

The product folks were so impressed by the fraud department’s ability to confidently identify good returning customers without any friction that they started looping fraud fighters into discussions about the customer journey more generally - which, in turn, made fraud prevention more informed and more effective. 

Where Do You Need to Kickstart Collaboration?

The panelists had different perspectives on where to prioritize collaboration. It’s something that depends a lot on the nature of an organization, and the main fraud challenges they’re facing. 

Sam: Marketing. Sam remembered a painful occasion when a marketing team had launched a new promotion, in a new market, without even telling the fraud team it was happening. Fraud was utterly blindsided, and had to juggle urgently between customer experience (to help the new campaign) and fraud prevention - which became especially pressing since a flood of fraudsters descended, aiming to take advantage of the offer. 

Uri: Friendly fraud. It’s spiking like crazy, and standard fraud fighting techniques can’t help, because when it’s the real customer everything checks out. You need the big picture, across merchants, and you only get that through collaboration. In fact, it’s the lack of collaboration which is causing the current problem. Companies need to leverage Privacy Enhancing Tech to work directly together and solve friendly fraud at last.  

Rob: Payments. The entire payments ecosystem is still working in silos like it’s a decade ago. They collect different kinds of information, they don’t share them, and the result is frustration for fraud fighters and friction for good users. Rob noted that he’d achieved real improvements by scheduling regular meetings with the payments processors and providers his company works with, so that they can check in on what they’re each seeing and make sure they’re working in sync. 

What Do You Need to Watch Out For?

Unexpectedly, everyone had the same answer for this one. What will trip you up and kill your attempts at collaboration, if you aren’t prepared for it? Privacy. 

Rob noted that privacy is a pitfall for the unwary, because the need to protect customer data and fulfill regulatory requirements is so essential in today’s privacy-conscious world. If you’ve found solid solutions to the potential problems in advance, then the privacy protectors in your company will become your best friends. If you haven’t, your collaborative efforts will never get off the ground. 

Sam suggested executive sponsorship, to help get any departments who need to make the privacy-related decisions and efforts to take it seriously. Since privacy can sometimes slow things down, she felt that working it through is more effective when it’s got that extra little push from above. 

Uri recommended making privacy a part of the vision of the department. There are creative ways to incorporate privacy needs into new fraud prevention solutions and directions, and the more fraud fighters lean into that, the better their relationship with Privacy will be - and the easier it’ll be to make things happen. 

Where Next?

Interestingly, the panelists’ suggestions for how to move forward with collaboration in your organization were each a part of one wider recommendation: Change the way you think.

  • Rob: Build bridges, and stop thinking in a silo. We’re part of a complex online ecosystem, and we need to think like it. 
  • Sam: Stop thinking that you “own” fraud management. Educate the rest of the organization, and make fraud part of their discussions, and their needs part of your discussions. 
  • Uri: Share KPIs and responsibilities, to encourage everyone who touches the customer experience to prioritize smooth onboarding, and frictionless experience. This sounds daunting at first, but it can be astonishingly powerful.

With all of these suggestions, the panelists were encouraging the audience to get creative about collaboration. 

They left us with a question for everyone to think about: Who else can help me in my journey to create an overall more trustworthy ecosystem? 

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