We've listed some of the warning signs of fraud below. The most important is the country of origin. Orders originating from or containing shipping or billing addresses in some countries, particularly Romania, Macedonia, and Belarus, have an extremely high incidence of fraud.
Unless you have a lot experience with international orders, you may want to decline to ship to these countries, even if you get a valid authorization from the credit card company. (If you read the fine print of your merchant agreement, you will usually find that an authorization doesn't guarantee you'll get paid.) If you want to go through with the transaction, be sure to do some homework to verify that the orders are legitimate.
Fraud is less of a problem with orders from North America, Western Europe, or Japan. But, it is still a possibility. Below are some general warning signs of a fraudulent order. These warning signs are only factors to consider when renewing an order. No one of these warning signs is a sure indication that an order is fraudulent. Likewise, there is no guarantee that if an order has none of these factors, that it is a legitimate order. These factors are provided to help merchants identify high risk transactions and when to do a little extra research on verification before completing the transaction.
On their own, any one of these warning signs do not necessarily mean that an order is fraudulent. However, if the same order has multiple warning signs, you should investigate the order carefully. As a general rule, you should never ship a valuable order unless itchecks out. And be aware that getting a valid authorization is no guarantee that the order is legitimate.
- Suspect ship address. Orders from Romania, Macedonia, Belarus, Pakistan, Russia, Lithuania, Egypt, Nigeria, Colombia, Malaysia, and Indonesia have a very high incidence of fraud, and often have unverifiable addresses.
- Untraceable email address. In many fraudulent orders, the customer's email address is often at one of the free email services, which are relatively untraceable
- Expensive items. Be wary of big orders, especially for expensive brand-name items.
- Multiple items. It can be a bad sign, for example, if someone orders three watches or three Walkmen at once, especially where the items have a high resale value.
- Express shipping. Most fraudulent orders specify overnight or 1-day shipping.
- Shipping address differs from billing address. If you are selling valuable items, it can be a good policy only to ship to the billing address of the card.
- Suspicious billing address. If the billing address is 123 Main St, New York, the order is probably fraud. You can use Yahoo! Maps or another location tool to see if the address can be verified.
- New Site. Newly opened sites are more often targeted, perhaps in the belief that the merchants will be inexperienced.
- Leave at door. If someone placing a very valuable order says just to leave it at the door, it could be a sign that a crook is using some unwitting person's house as a drop-off point. (Solution: require a signature.)