About Internet Fraud - a note from retailers to consumers


Hello respected customers!  With the increase of eCommerce, comes an increase of fraudulent transactions online.  The good  news, is most transactions are from well-intentioned customers and retailers that wish to do business together.  However, there are those rare exceptions where there are issues, and we need to ensure that both the customer and the retailers are protected and safe when shopping.  In the recent months, I have had more suspicious activity, and it has worked its way around in surprising ways.  The good news, is my eCommerce solution provider sends warnings about suspicious activity for me, so most of these are caught and reversed before any product is shipped.  Some of the red flags that I have received notification on are:




- The billing address does not match the payment method (i.e. paypal or credit card).  Sometimes this is legitimate, when a customer moves and hasn't updated their address records.  In other cases, it is a red flag, especially if the city, province and country are different.

- There are multiple addresses (billing address and shipping address is different), and the customer`s IP address is in a different country.  Another red flag.  Again, there are reasons where this could be legitimate, but in most causes it points to fraudulent activity.

In light of this, I am definitely asking more questions than I use to with respect to my eCommerce service providers and even verifying with my customers when my eCommerce solution alerts me of this type of suspicious activity.  

The good news, is that these are vary rare.  Literally for me, about 1 or 2 every thousand transactions have an issue that needs attention.  However, when it happens, it is stressful for everyone, especially the person who had their credit card hijacked.

Most people practice safe habits with their credit cards and banking information but some of these cyber bastards get this information anyway.  I am not going to waste your time and research and list good security habits that you can likely find listed on a million websites.  What I would rather do is share with you some things to be aware of when shopping online from my perspective as a retailer:

If you moved recently, and you shop on my website, you can expect that I will contact you before I ship

Ecommerce retailers who are dealing with reputable ecommerce solutions will ALERT us when there is an issue before we fulfill any orders.  They are hooked up to payment gateways that do these checks and balance for us and let us know whether we are dealing with a potential fraud case.  If I get an alert on your order, I need to contact you to make sure your credit card didn't get lifted.  I am not calling you to give you a sales pitch or to be a nuisance.  I want to make sure you actually ordered the product before I ship it.    

Shop with retailers that invest in actual eCommerce solutions

I am not advocating that more money means better.  I am not suggesting that entrepreneurs that add buttons to their free sites are not legitimate business people deserving of our business.  I am only telling you that security measures are not usually free. Scroll to the bottom of the website and make sure that it is branded with an eCommerce solution and payment gateways. Then at a minimum you know you are dealing with someone who has invested in your security and their own.  Stay away from websites that are on free platforms that someone added some checkout buttons to.  If you have any doubt, use paypal instead of your credit card.  Paypal at least has buyer protection, so you have the means to see if you are dealing with a verified account (and so do I!).  Also, nothing fires me up like websites that are not transparent with their contact information. For cripes sakes people - post your email address and phone number.  Make sure that you feel comfortable if you are buying, that you have the ability to contact them if there is a problem.  

Please enter your phone number in the order!

Truthfully, the phone is my least preferred contact method.  I am a web person.  In my world, phones are for checking social media and text messaging.

Email, instant messaging, coffee dates and social media are my preferred contact methods.  I rarely make a phone call in the year 2014.  However, there are times when a customer needs to talk to me to make sure I am a living, breathing person and not a phishing site and I respect that and appreciate that due diligence.  On the flip side, if I get a fraud warning due to an address change, or you are on vacation placing an order for your best friend and cannot call or text you to verify, I may not be able to fulfill your order.  It is too big of a risk to take a payment unless we both know we are cool.  Further, if you are outside of North America, I need a phone number to print a shipping label. I NEED one.  So that the post office can contact you if need be.  I have been using MY phone number on some of my orders because customers don't fill them in.

Since I am not a phone person, you can be rest assured I won`t call you to market to you.  :0)  And.... there are laws that govern how I market to you online, so you are safe!  And I would never sell your information. Ever! So, please place your phone number in the order field.

Be safe out there when online shopping!  

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  • Carrie Paxson