Challenges and Complexities in Machine Learning based Credit Card Fraud Detection

by   Gayan K. Kulatilleke, et al.

Credit cards play an exploding role in modern economies. Its popularity and ubiquity have created a fertile ground for fraud, assisted by the cross boarder reach and instantaneous confirmation. While transactions are growing, the fraud percentages are also on the rise as well as the true cost of a dollar fraud. Volume of transactions, uniqueness of frauds and ingenuity of the fraudster are main challenges in detecting frauds. The advent of machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data has opened up new tools in the fight against frauds. Given past transactions, a machine learning algorithm has the ability to 'learn' infinitely complex characteristics in order to identify frauds in real-time, surpassing the best human investigators. However, the developments in fraud detection algorithms has been challenging and slow due the massively unbalanced nature of fraud data, absence of benchmarks and standard evaluation metrics to identify better performing classifiers, lack of sharing and disclosure of research findings and the difficulties in getting access to confidential transaction data for research. This work investigates the properties of typical massively imbalanced fraud data sets, their availability, suitability for research use while exploring the widely varying nature of fraud distributions. Furthermore, we show how human annotation errors compound with machine classification errors. We also carry out experiments to determine the effect of PCA obfuscation (as a means of disseminating sensitive transaction data for research and machine learning) on algorithmic performance of classifiers and show that while PCA does not significantly degrade performance, care should be taken to use the appropriate principle component size (dimensions) to avoid overfitting.


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