Vigilance Pays for Online Merchants

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Over the past few weeks, there has been a slight increase in the number of attempts by individuals to place fraudulent orders at stores, according to Len Vlahos, director of He noted that these orders are still the very rare exception at stores. However, last week e-mailed stores to alert them to certain types of orders that should be flagged and looked at carefully.

Orders for many copies of the same book -- often for Bibles or medical texts -- may signal fraud. Orders billed or shipped outside of the United States could also be problematic; a lot of fraud originates overseas. Stores can always ask for a secured payment -- either a bank check or money order -- before shipping if any order seems questionable.

Vlahos told BTW, "Be particularly cautious if the name on the credit card doesn't match the name on the billing or shipping address. Contact the customer and/or customer's bank before shipping the books."

He also noted that booksellers should be careful if the billing address doesn't match the shipping address. "While this will usually indicate someone sending a gift or a recommended read to a friend or family member, it can also be an indicator of fraud," he explained. "If anything else about the order seems odd to you, contact the customer first, and again, if you feel it's warranted, get payment in advance. Store owners should use their common sense and experience when handling online orders."

Contact Len Vlahos with any questions about online orders at [email protected].