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Fraud Mitigation Strategies for Automotive Websites: Safeguarding User Transactions and Data

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4 August 2023

Did you know that one in 10 Brits have been the victim of fraud when purchasing a vehicle? It’s clear that this is an increasing problem in the auto industry.

Because of this, automotive businesses need to do everything in their power to protect customers from cyber threats.

Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. However, understanding and applying robust fraud mitigation strategies are pivotal in ensuring the security of both businesses and their clientele.

In this blog post, we’ll explore such vital measures, focusing on how automotive websites can better protect themselves and their users from the incessant threats of online fraud.

Understanding the threat landscape

In order to effectively guard against fraud, it’s essential to understand the landscape from which these cyber threats emerge. This is much like trying to navigate through a dense forest; having a clear map and recognising the terrain can help avoid hidden pitfalls.

Cyber threats come in many different shapes and sizes. Some of the most common in the auto field include:

  • Phishing attacks – This is a common strategy that attempts to trick a user into providing information or clicking on a link. For example, you may receive an email, which appears to be from an automotive website, asking you to ‘confirm’ your login details. Unbeknown to you, this email is purely a ruse. If you answer it, you’re providing your details directly to fraudsters.
  • Credit card fraud – Credit card fraud is a monumental issue for anyone dealing with online payments. Imagine a customer finding out that their credit card has been used for buying expensive car parts from your site while they have no idea about these transactions – a nightmarish situation for both the business and the customer.
  • False listings – A unique auto fraud scheme often seen in online automotive marketplaces involves fraudsters posting fake car listings at seemingly bargain prices. These listings may use photos and details scraped from legitimate listings, and the “seller” often insists on fast payment, usually through a method that is hard to trace or recover. Unsuspecting buyers lose their money and, needless to say, never receive the car.

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Compliance: Understanding GDPR & PCI DSS

Before we take a look at the different strategies you can use to mitigate fraud in the auto industry, we first need to understand compliance.

Adherence to data protection regulations such as GDPR and PCI DSS is not merely a legal obligation but a key component in the fight against online fraud.


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) affects any business that handles personal data of EU citizens, including automotive websites. This GDPR guide is an excellent resource, which explains what is expected of you.

Key components of GDPR compliance include:

  • Consent and transparency – Businesses must obtain clear consent to collect and use personal data and must provide transparent information about how the data will be used.
  • Data minimisation – Collect only what is necessary. This is critical to ensure exposure is minimised as much as possible in the event of a breach.
  • Right to erasure – Also called the “right to be forgotten,” this means that your customers have the right to request that their personal data is deleted under certain circumstances.

You must ensure your operations align with these principles.


The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is crucial for automotive websites that process credit card transactions.

PCI DSS helps in securing sensitive cardholder information and ensures that the handling of such information is done following stringent guidelines.

Key components of PCI DSS compliance include:

  • Network security – Implementing firewalls and securing networks where cardholder data is processed, transmitted, or stored.
  • Data protection – Encrypting sensitive cardholder information during transmission over public networks.
  • Access control – Restricting access to cardholder data to only those individuals who need it for their job functions.
  • Regular monitoring and testing – Continuously monitoring and regularly testing security systems and processes to ensure ongoing compliance.

These regulations, collectively, build a framework that promotes a culture of security and responsibility.

Essential Fraud Mitigation Measures

In the battle against cyber fraud, a handful of strategies have proven to be remarkably effective. By understanding these tactics, you can equip your automotive website with the necessary tools to keep users safe.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA is a security process that requires users to provide two or more verification methods – or factors – to authenticate their identity.

These factors can be:

  • Something they know (like a password)
  • Something they have (such as a mobile device to receive a verification code)
  • Something they are (like a fingerprint)

MFA adds an extra layer of security, making it much harder for attackers to gain access to a device or online account, as they would have to compromise several pieces of evidence simultaneously.

Here’s how it works:

Two-step verification

Often, MFA involves something as simple as sending a verification code to a user’s mobile phone. This second step ensures that even if someone has the correct password, they must also have access to the registered mobile device.

Biometric verification

Some platforms incorporate biometrics like fingerprints or facial recognition. This adds an incredibly personalised layer of security, tying access to the unique biological characteristics of the user.

Secure Payment Processing

In a world where online transactions have become a norm, secure payment processing has emerged as a key priority for businesses, including automotive websites.

The primary goal is to ensure that the sensitive financial information exchanged during transactions remains confidential and inaccessible to potential hackers or unauthorised third parties.

Two critical technologies employed to achieve this goal are encryption and tokenisation.


Encryption involves converting information into a coded form, which means it becomes unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have the correct decryption key.

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Here’s why it’s indispensable:

  • Protecting data in transit – When you make an online purchase, your payment information needs to travel through various networks to reach the merchant’s bank. Encryption ensures that even if this data is intercepted, it remains unintelligible to unauthorised parties.
  • Maintaining privacy – By encrypting payment information, businesses protect not just the financial details but also the associated personal information, preserving user privacy.
  • Compliance with regulations – Many regulations, including PCI DSS, mandate the use of encryption for transmitting credit card information, making it not just a best practice but a compliance requirement.


Tokenisation takes a different approach. It replaces sensitive data, such as credit card numbers, with ‘tokens’ to reduce cyber security risks. Tokens are unique identification symbols.

Here’s how it adds to the security of your auto business:

  • Preserving information without risk – Tokens retain all the essential information needed for a transaction without revealing the actual sensitive details. If a token is intercepted, it’s useless without the corresponding de-tokenisation mechanism.
  • Reducing the scope of compliance – By using tokens instead of actual card numbers, businesses can reduce the scope of their PCI DSS compliance efforts, as the tokens themselves aren’t subject to the same stringent requirements.
  • Enhancing flexibility – Tokenization can be applied to various data types, providing flexibility in securing different kinds of sensitive information.


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Mitigating Fraud is Not a One-Time Thing

Continuous monitoring and improvement are essential for staying ahead.

By constantly overseeing systems for signs of suspicious or unauthorised activities, businesses can detect potential threats in real-time, allowing them to respond swiftly and minimise damage.

Monitoring tools like this solution can be employed to flag anomalies, and automated alerts can be set up to notify administrators of potential threats.

Adoption and evolution

The best defence is one that evolves with the threat landscape.

Regular assessments, updates, and refinements of fraud mitigation strategies are essential to maintain efficacy.

Innovation and technology

Embracing new technologies and innovative solutions, like this solution, can provide an extra layer of defence, continually adapting to new threats and promoting continuous improvement.

Collaboration and industry insight

Staying informed about emerging threats requires collaboration with peers, industry groups, and security experts.

Sharing insights and learning from others’ experiences can be invaluable in staying one step ahead of fraudsters.

Fraud Mitigation Strategies for Automotive Websites

There’s no denying that automotive websites need to take proactive measures to safeguard user transactions and data. However, armed with the right fraud mitigation strategies, automotive businesses can confidently navigate this digital landscape, protecting themselves and their users against the relentless threats of online fraud.

Remember, in the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats, vigilance, adaptation, and proactive action are not just a choice but a necessity. Empower your automotive website with robust fraud mitigation strategies today and ensure a safer and more secure digital future.

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Business Motoring

Business Motoring

Business Motoring is the motoring resource for small businesses and SME small fleets running company cars and business cars.

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