New Survey Sounds Alarm: Retailers in the UK Must Prepare for Rise in Policy Abuse This Summer

Financial pressures are the primary driver for half of Brits to engage in policy abuse, heightening concerns amidst rising summer shopping and lingering cost-of-living pain

LONDON – 18th June 2024 –Riskified (NYSE:RSKD), a leader in ecommerce fraud and risk intelligence, today released the findings from its latest consumer pulse survey, providing insights into consumer attitudes towards the growing problem of policy abuse, whereby consumers knowingly exploit or manipulate a merchant’s terms and conditions for personal gain.

According to the survey, nearly one in five (18%) UK consumers report that they are more likely to engage in policy abuse behaviours in the summer, revealing yet another seasonal peak that merchants must prepare for, in addition to the pre- and post-holiday seasons. Increased financial pressures are the primary driver of this behaviour, with just under half (49%) saying this makes them more likely to engage in policy abuse. As higher summer spending, including costs relating to travel and special events, and the lingering impact of the cost-of-living crisis combine, merchants are warned to prepare for a spike in abuse. 21% are buying more this summer while 20% say they have less disposable income.

Other key findings from Riskified’s policy abuse survey include:

●   Excessive return and promotion abuse is the most common form of policy abuse: Unsurprisingly, 48% of consumers have used multiple email addresses to reuse coupons or discounts. Similarly, 49% of consumers have purchased multiple sizes or colours of an item with the intention of returning most of them.

●   Men and Gen Z are the biggest policy abuse offenders: This is true across all forms of policy abuse, but most notably more “extreme” policy abuses like “wardrobing”—buying clothing to wear once to return it afterwards – and “INR” (item not received) where consumers falsely claim not to receive an item to claim refunds or replacements: 39% and 34% of 18-24-year-olds admitted to engaging in these behaviours respectively. Men are also more likely to commit all forms of policy abuse than women. Interestingly, men are taking a more systematic approach, with a huge 54% of men purchasing an item to resell for a higher price, versus just 33% of women. 

●   Guilt plays little to no part in deterring consumers from policy abuse: Brits partaking in policy abuse are torn in whether they feel guilty about it, with an equal 50% split between those who do and don’t. 52% of those who would consider policy abuse in the future also agree that one should feel guilty about exploiting retailer policies, but admit they too would engage in these fraudulent behaviours.

“There might be seasonal peaks in fraud and policy abuse but in reality, merchants are vulnerable all year round, and abusive behaviour is on the rise,” says Joe Gelman, Product Marketing Manager at Riskified. “When it comes to policy abuse, regular consumers are in the mix with professional fraudsters, making it especially difficult for merchants to strike the right balance between protecting profits and being generous with customers. Merchants partnered with Riskified are ahead of the curve in solving for policy abuse, leveraging our AI platform to detect abuse in real-time and diverting the losses from bad actors towards rewarding their best customers.”

Learn more about how policy abuse heats up during the summertime on Riskified’s blog.

About the survey

The purpose of this research was to look at consumer attitudes towards policy abuse and understand the reasons behind these behaviours. Commissioned by Riskified, Sapio Research surveyed 2,000 consumers across the UK and US who have committed or would consider committing policy abuse. The interviews were conducted online in May 2024 using an email invitation and online survey.