Credit Card Validation: Your Questions Answered

You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers! This is the first in a series of articles exploring common user questions about our products and how they can be used in business use cases, based on what you’ve asked our sales and technical support teams. We hope you’ll find these enlightening, interesting – and even fun to read!

For our first topic, we’ve chosen an area near and dear to many of our business clients: validating credit card transactions. We’ve previously explored some of the pros and cons of various approaches for credit card validation in a recent post, and will take a deeper dive into the differences between validation and verification of credit card addresses in a future article. Here, we will explore how to handle some of the most common use cases for credit transactions.

Let’s dive in:

Q: If we use the credit card company’s Address Validation System (AVS), we get a much cheaper processing rate. But it is very strict about these addresses, and kicks back too many transactions that are actually valid – so we are losing business and customers. Help!

A: This is an extremely common issue. One reason is that AVS only compares the numerical portion of the street address, together with the ZIP code, to verify the address. If either of these numbers are off even a little bit, it will reject the address. Often this is a good thing – because it can protect you from, say, a thief using a stolen credit card to ship to a bogus address – but this can also reject legitimate customers.

A simple solution for these “false negatives” is to use our DOTS Address Validation – US service to validate the address at the time the customer enters it. This gives you the ability to inform the customer in real time about address errors, and also offer them a validated and corrected address from our CASS-certified validation engine, powered by up-to-date USPS address data.

You can either simply validate addresses that fail the AVS check, or even better, validate every incoming address to ensure correct shipping addresses and a clean contact database. Either way, this is a simple step that will help more of your transactions go through smoothly.

Q: We are suddenly getting a lot of chargebacks and fraudulent transactions. Ironically, a lot of these fraudsters are giving us credit card numbers that pass AVS. What can we do?

A: You’ve discovered the hard way that many crooks – identity thieves in particular – open fraudulent credit accounts with legitimate shipping addresses. Of course, they never pay the bill and make off with your merchandise. Chargeback or “friendly” fraud is another way people fraudulently obtain goods without paying for them.

A 2018 Gartner report outlined machine intelligence and online fraud detection (OFD) tools as being among the most promising safeguards against these kinds of fraud. Many customers use our DOTS Lead Validation service as an automated screen for the quality of potential customers, using tests involving over 130 data points that yield an overall lead quality score from 0 to 100. Tools like these can go a long way towards weeding out the bad actors before you ship your merchandise to them.

As a bonus, the detailed results provided by Lead Validation also helps you decide whether to simply reject an order or pass it along for further human verification, making it easier to save good orders that may have raised a red flag or two.

Q: We offer a subscription service or sell products on a payment plan, billed to a customer’s credit card monthly. Increasingly people have been defrauding us by signing up with a prepaid credit card with a low balance – so they get the goodies, but only the first payment gets made. How can we prevent this kind of fraud?

A: This problem is actually quite easy to solve, using our DOTS BIN Validation product. Its output contains a value called CardType that lets you detect and flag prepaid credit cards. Armed with this knowledge, you can create business logic with options like:

  • Let the customer know in real time that you do not accept this type of card for this product/service
  • Request another form of payment,
  • Offer only a pay-in-full option for this card type, or
  • Decline the order.

Q: Is there anything else we can do to prevent fraudulent credit transactions?

A: One more pro tip is to compare the customer’s shipping and billing address with the BIN Validation’s Country field, which lists the country of the credit card’s issuing bank and the country result from DOTS IP Address Validation lookup. If they are different, you can flag certain countries (e.g. those with high fraud rates) to decline the transaction immediately or ask for another form of payment.

So what are your questions?

We would love to hear from you. Of course, you can contact our product team anytime for a personal response – and if there is anything you would like to see us discuss in a future article, let us know. Thanks!

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