Watchful Eye Needed for Online Orders

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With online sales increasing each year, and especially at holiday time, when the push is on to fill orders as quickly as possible, booksellers with e-commerce websites need to be diligent in watching for scams. While some attempts at theft may be obvious (i.e., orders from locations such as Nigeria, or for large numbers of Bibles or medical books), others require more careful attention on the part of store staff in order to prevent the loss of hundreds of dollars in chargebacks.

All regular and seasonal employees who will be processing online orders should be reminded to watch for key indicators that something is wrong. In one recent example in which a stolen credit card was used to pay for an order via an IndieCommerce website, there were a couple of red flags: The shipping and billing addresses were different; the total was very large (close to $800); and the contact e-mail was not that of the person who placed the ordered, that is, the “bill to,” but rather the person who was the “ship to.”

Any time a bookstore receives a large online order from out of state or some other great distance, or if something else about the order does not quite fit, it is good business to call the customer to confirm the order and the credit card number. For the bookstore, asking for the three-digit security number on the back of the card ensures the purchaser has the card in his or her possession. For valid customers, a call from a staff member who explains that, for the cardholder's protection, he is calling to confirm the order, that extra bit of customer service will likely be appreciated. If the credit card is stolen, there’s a good chance that the phone number will not work or will be a wrong number.

Every year, scammers become more and more inventive, and retailers have to be prepared to respond in kind. Here’s a look back at some other warnings that ABA has issued about fake or stolen checks, orders placed via teletype relay services (TTY) for the hearing-impaired, and more.