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Stricter rules for online purchases come into force today

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Online shoppers should expect changes to their purchases from today as part of the new measures introduced to try and combat fraud.

A new set of Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) requirements are being implemented that will change how people confirm their identity when making online purchases.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that customers will now be asked to prove their identity when making a purchase, by confirming their identify through two of the following three ‘factors’:

  1. Something they are – like a fingerprint or facial ID
  2. Something they know – like a passcode or password
  3. Something they have – like a mobile phone

The SCA rules have already been applied to a small number of transactions for some time, but the proportion of transactions which need to adhere to the new requirements has been steadily increasing since the start of this year as merchants prepared themselves to meet the enforcement date.

Today’s deadline comes almost three years after the SCA requirements were announced in September 2019. With an increasing amounts of purchases being made digitally, it is hoped SCA will help reduce fraud and better protect customers and their money when shopping online.

In practice, this could mean customers are asked to verify a purchase via text message, receiving a passcode which they are then prompted to enter on screen. Other confirmations could include answering an automated phone call to your landline or mobile, or through an app on your smartphone. 

Some types of transactions are exempt from strong customer authentication, meaning customers may not always be asked to complete extra security steps. These may be purchases deemed ‘low-risk’ of fraudulent activity, such as when buying low-cost items, or repeated purchases such as subscriptions.

Tom Ironside, the BRC’s director of Business & Regulation, said: “Retailers have been working hard to prepare for the Strong Customer Authentication requirements, ensuring online purchases are both as safe and easy as possible.

“The BRC and our members have worked with suppliers to ensure multiple fraud checks are performed behind the scenes and any additional friction is kept to a minimum. Customers should be reassured that buying online has never been safer.”

Last year, insurer Aviva called for the upcoming Online Safety Bill to include greater consumer protections to stop search engines promoting financial scams in their results.

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