How To Combat Credit Card Fraud

Mail Order companies and E-Commerce Web operators are constantly faced with a higher chance of incurring a fraudulent credit card transaction than are merchants who operate physical storefronts.

Because neither the Cardholder nor the card is physically present during the transaction, the merchant has no real way of easily determining whether or not they are dealing with a legitimate customer.

According to a report recently issued by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) in conjunction with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3):

“Credit and debit card fraud comprised 6.3% of all complaints received in 2006.”

This represents over $60 Billion (.U.S.) in lost revenue to merchants that accept credit and debit cards for on-line transactions. While some of those losses are covered by the Issuing Bank, who may often reimburse the merchant’s if all of the bank’s card acceptance and processing rules were followed exactly, some of that loss may still be passed back to the merchants in the form of charge backs.

You can help reduce your risk of experiencing credit card fraud by following these tips:

1. Review all Orders Carefully. Ensure that the customer filled in all of the appropriate fields on the order form. Check to make sure that the order passed your credit card processor’s Address Verification Check (AVS). Most fraudulent credit card transactions fail to pass AVS.

2. Be suspicious of orders with a different Ship To and Bill To address unless the order is from an existing customer and this is part of their normal ordering process. Even so, stay alert if the customer has entered a different Ship To address from the one that they normally use.

3. Be alert for the use of Free Email Addresses. The majority of credit card scammers use free e-mail addresses from HotMail, Yahoo and other free e-mail providers.

4. Keep all transaction documentation. Make sure that your shopping cart stores the I.P. address that the customer used when visiting your site as well as the date and time of the visit. This information will be helpful if you are involved in a fraud investigation. If you have telephone contact with the customer, add their Caller ID information to the order record.

5. Be Suspicious of first-time high order amounts. If your first contact with a new customer is for an unusually high dollar amount, especially if they are requesting overnight delivery services, phone the customer to verify their contact information.

6. Verify customer telephone numbers and addresses using any of the free White pages web sites such as Whitepages.com.

7. If in doubt, call the customer. You can usually avoid being scammed by simply getting the customer on the phone at the telephone number they provided on the order form. If you are unable to reach the customer, or if the person at that number has no idea who the customer is, cancel the order. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

8. Make sure that your order form requires the customer to enter the Card Verification Value (CVV) number that is printed on their credit card. And make sure that your software passes this value along to your credit card processor. Knowing the CVV usually means that the cardholder is in physical possession of the credit card and not just using a stolen number that they got from somewhere.

While there is no guarantee that following these 8 steps will reduce your credit card fraud experience completely, there’s every chance that you can cut it back dramatically by simply being alert and following up on your suspicions.