The words “friendly” and “fraud” don’t seem like the two should go together, especially given that fraud is never friendly. Friendly fraud is a phrase that the merchant service industry uses to describe accidental or intentional chargebacks. This chargeback problem costs the retail world billions of dollars every year, and analysts expect its prevalence to keep rising.
Customers start chargebacks for various reasons. Sometimes, a clerk makes a processing mistake, and it’s not possible to dispute the chargeback. However, if the sale is correct and accurate, a merchant can fight the chargeback to keep the money. Creating and following security rules for accepting cards are among some ways retailers can lessen the risk of a successful chargeback.
Defining Friendly Fraud
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Friendly fraud comes in a variety of forms with the same result: The customer initiates a chargeback. From the merchant’s perspective, the sale processed perfectly. The customer bought the item, seemed pleased with the purchase, and nothing further took place — until the chargeback notification was sent. Friendly fraud includes the following situations:
- Customers forgot they made the purchase and didn’t recognize the charge.
- Another account user bought some merchandise, and the primary holder wasn’t aware of the purchase.
- Customers buy items and do not intend to pay for them, thus beginning the chargeback process.
As a result of these friendly fraud occurrences, a business now has to take the time to fight a chargeback. Sometimes, the sale amount is so small that a business doesn’t contest the charge, preferring to take the loss and the fees instead. If a business makes this decision enough times, however, the business may find itself looking for a high-risk merchant account provider.
Keep Friendly Fraud From Taking Place
Merchant service providers allow businesses to fight the chargeback, but the company needs to offer its proof. That evidence might be difficult to produce if certain security protocols weren’t followed during the sale.
To prove product delivery, businesses should maintain a regular shipping or delivery schedule and follow shipment tracking. The more evidence exists that the transaction occurred, the better business will be able to produce proof in chargeback cases.
Create a transaction routine for all employees to follow when collecting credit card data. Make sure employees require and get a signature for card-present sales and log IP addresses for online purchases. Record the CVV number and verify the card’s billing address. Finally, keep accurate records of all the information that’s gathered for proof if a customer decides to start a chargeback claim.
All types of businesses deal with chargebacks — some more than others. Companies that deal with a high volume of chargebacks are best served by a high-risk merchant account to prevent an unexpected account closure.
However, all business, regardless of high- or low-risk status, need to protect their business operations and reputation against customers who don’t want to follow the rules. Being vigilant can help you keep product costs down, maintain positive profit flow, and make sure your customers remain happy when doing business with you.