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Minimising Credit Card Fraud – For Online Retailers
Well-organized criminal organizations steal credit card numbers in many different ways (virus programs in particular) and use these numbers to purchase goods from Internet retailers using stolen Internet accounts or through anonymous proxy servers.
Often these transactions go unnoticed by the real cardholder until they check their statement, which can be several months after the transaction took place. These gangs arrange for the goods to be delivered to temporary addresses which are quickly vacated after two weeks to avoid authorities.
Once the cardholder discovers the transaction, they will file a claim with their bank to have the transaction reversed. You as the merchant will have no choice but to allow the bank to reverse the transaction and ultimately you will lose that money.
If your dream is to work for yourself in your own business, and that business consists of consumers paying for your goods with credit cards over the Internet, then beware.
I have been in business on the Internet for a few years now. One of my businesses is an online store selling memory products at http://www.ramcity.com.au. Over the years I have been caught a few times, resulting in losses close to $2000 total. I was one of the lucky ones and fortunately through careful due diligence I have not encountered any incidence of fraud in over 12 months now.
Here’s what I’ve learned about fraud prevention if you own an online business:
1. Be VERY suspicious of anyone who places an order and provides a free email account with their contact details. Of every fraudulent transaction I’ve had, they’ve all provided email accounts with hotmail.com or yahoo.com, or fastermail.com addresses.
2. If you receive an order and someone provides a free account email address, check the white pages or phone directory to see if the address is listed. If it is not, then call them to confirm that they have placed the order. Often if I can speak to someone on the phone and ask them to confirm their credit card CVV code, I will be satisfied that the order is legitimate. If they are completely evasive, then I insist they fax a copy of the credit card statement and their driver’s license so you can verify the credentials. If the order is fake, you were probably provided with a fake phone number anyway.
3. Some credit card gateways such as Eway now have the facility to identify the Bank and country of origin that issued the credit card. This is convenient because you can ask the order which bank issued their credit card. It is unlikely that they will have this information if they are using a stolen card.
4. Always send confirmation emails back to the email address provided in the order. If a criminal uses an email address that belongs to someone else, there is a chance that the real owner of the email account will email you, saying they know nothing about the order.
5. Never ship goods to PO Box addresses, especially if you deal in electronic products. Always deliver your goods by courier, with the requirement that someone must sign for the order. This may be a pain for some of your customers, but doing this alone will eliminate many scams. Many criminals will set up a post office box under a false name for a month, deliver goods to it, and then disappear with no way to trace them.
6. If you’re an Australian retailer, think long and hard about doing business internationally. If you sell “real” goods such as computer equipment or electronics that are easy to resell on the black market, you will be targeted by fraudsters. If you sell software or other “soft” products, then sell internationally if you want, but expect to lose a certain amount of business due to fraudulent transactions from orders placed with stolen credit cards. Alternatively you could require international buyers to always pay by direct deposit.
7. Assume that every order you receive is potentially fraudulent. Look for bad spelling, the use of all lowercase letters in names, fake or disconnected phone numbers, and especially free email accounts.
Here’s what you can do if you think you’ve received an order that’s fraudulent:
1. If you have a real-time credit card clearing facility, then the money from the order would normally be deposited into your bank account the next day. In my opinion you should cancel the order and reverse the transaction immediately. Personally I always save or pre-authorize the transaction so I can manually inspect the order before processing it. This saves you accounting hassles down the road with managing reversals and refunds, as you can simply cancel the transaction if it’s fraudulent.
2. Call your merchant bank or credit card authorization center to report as many details as possible about the order. Here’s the kicker: the bank won’t provide you with any information about the transaction to confirm if the cardholder’s name matches the card number because of the Privacy Act. If the bank is satisfied that the transaction is fraudulent, they will report the card as stolen so that all further transactions posted to it will be declined.
3. If you are unfortunate enough to receive a charge from your bank for a fraudulent transaction, then report the matter to the police as soon as you find out. The best place to do this is at your local police station. Provide them with a copy of the order, the transaction details from your credit card clearing gateway, the IP address of your web applications, the time and date of the order, the signed delivery note, and anything else you have, including details of chargebacks, and the contact details of the person to whom you reported the matter at your bank.
Be aware that if the transaction was for a few hundred dollars, it will be a low priority issue for the police, but don’t let this put you off. If everyone reports some cases of fraud, then someone can recognize a pattern and maybe catch one of the bad guys.
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