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- Our buying patterns make us all look like fraudsters at Christmas -

As consumers gear themselves up for a shopping frenzy over the next few weeks, SAS Institute UK, the world's largest privately held software company, is warning retailers that they face £400m in losses over the Christmas and January sales due to fraud and theft.

The British Retail Consortium estimates that crime costs UK businesses £2billion**. Throughout the year, fraud is a major issue for retailers and it is increasing at a dramatic rate with card crime alone having risen 55% in 2000 compared to 1999***. However, many retailers still don't have the technology in place to detect and prevent fraudulent behaviour.

Credit, debit and store card fraud is significantly higher over the festive period than the rest of the year. Fraud is also harder to detect as shopping patterns change over Christmas due to consumers buying high-value presents for friends and family, often financing these purchases using plastic. As a result honest consumers end up looking like fraudsters and real fraudsters can use these abnormal spending habits to hide their crimes more effectively - only sophisticated technology applications can help to determine where fraud is happening.

Many retailers do not utilise, or have access to, the sophisticated fraud detection systems that banks and financial services organisations have in place. Retailers must exploit the data they have by analysing it to detect and prevent any fraudulent activity. Customer, supplier and internal data can all contain signs of unusual and suspect activity that can be detected and then acted upon to clamp down on fraud.

Peter Dorrington, Fraud Expert, SAS UK, says "Fraud is a serious problem, particularly at Christmas when anyone's financial transactions can look fraudulent. It is really important at this time of year that we keep an eye on all our personal accounts for any suspicious transactions. Retailers must also be extra vigilant at this time of the year by ensuring that signatures are thoroughly checked."

Dorrington continued, "Although we are advising many large organisations on the detection and prevention systems that can help stop fraud, the industry doesn't like talking about fraud as a problem. This is because the negative effect is threefold: organisations are unlikely to recoup their fraud losses, they are left having to deal with deeply upset customers and, in worst case scenarios, their brand can be negatively impacted as a result of being associated with fraud, resulting in serious financial losses. This is not a small issue but one that must be tackled to protect both businesses and consumers."

* Losses due to fraud and theft

** Source: British Retail Consortium

*** Source: Association of Payment Clearing Services (APACS)

Notes to Editors

SAS is working closely with many organisations across a range of industries to address digital fraud. Fraud detection can be defined as the process of detecting and understanding fraudulent actions in order to take corrective measures before, during, or after fraudulent activity, thus reducing and, where possible, eliminating losses associated with fraud. SAS' fraud detection solution enables companies to identify and deter any form of fraudulent activity. An integrated part of the SAS solution for CRM, it identifies factors that are difficult to detect manually, leading to reduced fraud and increased profitability. The solution utilises a combination of data mining, data warehousing and exception reporting to allow organisations to detect and prevent fraud.

Through the continual improvement of anti-fraud technologies and the tracking of intrusive events using data mining techniques, the fraud prevention teams within SAS' customers are able to build predictive models that track suspicious behaviour over time and enable them to develop models based on normal usage-trends.

About SAS

SAS provides software and services that enable customers to transform data from all areas of their business into intelligence. SAS solutions help organisations make better, more informed decisions and maximise customer, supplier, and organisational relationships. Solutions from SAS, the world's largest privately held software company, are used at more than 37,000 business, government and university sites around the world. Customers include 98 of the Fortune 100 and 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies. For 25 years, SAS has been giving our customers The Power to Know(tm).

For further information, please contact the SAS press office on: tel:+44 (0)20 7544 3202
fax: +44 (0)20 7240 1910 or

Please visit SAS' Web site:

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