Covering Your Back: Some Simple Reminders


Last week our Friday drop-in session was an opportunity to hear from MIA members about their experiences of fraudulent purchases, following reports from two MI retailers.

Thanks to the members who engaged with this session the discussion was useful to us in scoping out the extent of the potential challenges, and it also helped us in cementing some simple advice around taking card payments online or by telephone.

  • Telephone ‘Cardholder Not Present’ payments for mail orders are unsafe and there is no protection should there later be a chargeback or other dispute.  A safer alternative if the customer is uncomfortable with ordering online, would be to send them an invoice which can be paid by bank transfer before the goods are despatched.  It’s a good idea to ask them to use the invoice number as a reference.
  • Whichever payment processing and merchant bank companies you use, ensure that you have enabled and are properly using the protections they offer, such as 3D authentication.  These systems are not infallible but they do lessen the chances of losing out.
  • Always use tracked delivery services as a minimum, with proper proof of delivery.  Insured carriage can be expensive but it’s worth considering on higher priced items if you can make it viable. 
  • Listen to your gut instinct.  If it’s telling you there is something suspicious about an order it’s advisable to do some basic research on the customer, including speaking to them to discuss the instrument(s) and accessories they have ordered.  This is the kind of task best approached by an experienced member of the team but could also be part of training new staff.  If you remain uneasy you should be prepared to make a judgement about the order.
  • Click-and-collect is becoming increasingly popular with customers and businesses but this carries its own risks.  You can help to mitigate these risks by having a conversation with the customer in advance of collection and asking them to bring with them the payment card they used to make the purchase.  At the point of collection take a nominal payment of £1 from their card using Chip & Pin authentication (not contactless) and give them £1 back in cash to square things up.

It’s clear that making distance selling transactions water-tight is a challenge, and it’s something we plan to discuss with our friends at the BRC who will have experience and an overview of this issue from the wider retail community.  Regardless of this, it’s easy with all the pressures of running a successful business to overlook some of the thoughts shared above.

If you have any questions or thoughts on the topic of distance-selling security we’d love to hear from you.  Drop Matt an email or, if you’re coming to the MIA ‘Bringing the Industry Back Together’ event next Thursday, feel free to share your thoughts with us during the networking parts of the day.