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Retailers concerned about ensuring shoppers are old enough to buy age-restricted goods: survey

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Retailers are among the more than three-quarters of ecommerce businesses who say they are concerned about selling age-restricted goods or services to underage shoppers, recent research suggests.

More than half (61%) of those businesses rely on self-certification to check their customers’ age online – but 83% say they feel the need for more comprehensive identity verficiation, according to new research from LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

The research surveyed 200 senior ecommerce professionals responsible for e-retail activity, and found that 78% of ecommerce businesses are concerned about selling age restricted goods or services, such as cigarettes, alcohol, knives and fireworks, to minors online due to the age verification methods they currently have in place.

More than half (61%) of respondents said that they use self-certification (tick box/date of birth entry) to check their customers’ age online. Among larger ecommerce businesses, 79% said that they use this method, and only 30% of ecommerce businesses use Know Your Customer (KYC) checks via specialist credit check or identity check software.

Most (83%) ecommerce businesses said that they feel that they need to conduct more comprehensive identity verification to mitigate identity fraud, which is a growing threat for consumers online. Recent statistics from the not-for-profit organisation for financial crime, Cifas, found that victims of identity fraud rose by 57% last year, with 86% of these frauds taking place online.

Steve Arnison, director at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, said: “Retailers have contended with the challenges associated with selling age-restricted goods online for some time. Striking a balance between strong age verification checks that ensure they meet their legal obligations and protect their customers, whilst at the same time limiting friction to the shopping experience, is a priority for them.

“Our survey has highlighted opportunities for ecommerce businesses to strengthen procedures for determining the age of their customers. Many are still using an out-dated self-certification tick box approach, which on the one hand is quick and simple for the consumer, but is wide-open to misuse resulting in dangerous products being delivered to underage consumers.

“There is a widespread misconception that integrating robust identity verification technology will complicate the checkout process and make it more time-consuming for the consumer, however this is not the case. Today’s age verification software seamlessly integrates into a retailer’s ecommerce system so that checks are automated in real-time, with no need for the customer to input extensive personal information.

“As well as adding the protection for young people that society and government increasingly demand, improved identity verification brings businesses other benefits, not least of which is a better defence against fraud.”

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