Team eCommerce Next interviewed Mr. Jeff Wixted, VP, Marketing & Client Solutions at Accertify to get more insights on chargeback fraud, ways to prevent a chargeback, and the role of Accertify in dealing with chargebacks. Following is our interview with him:
1) Do you anticipate we’ll continue to see an elevated number of chargebacks in 2021? Which factors would you attribute this increase to?
2020 was a rollercoaster year for chargebacks with the pandemic causing sudden cancellations, shutdowns, and disruptions and disproportionately impacting industries such as travel, ticketing, and entertainment. While it’s hard to say for certain, early signs suggest chargebacks are likely to decline this year in these industries.
On the other hand, COVID-19 is accelerating ecommerce for many businesses, with new players creating or adopting online channels for services traditionally done in-store.
With these changes, more consumers are turning to online ordering and food delivery, and adopting new subscription or streaming services to view shows, movies, music and workouts at home. Chargebacks in these specific areas naturally saw an increase, and these industries may continue to experience increased volumes in 2021 compared to 2020.
2) What tactics would you recommend for merchants to help mitigate the impact of chargebacks?
Merchants can bolster their defense lines to protect against chargebacks by:
- Clearly communicating policies (ex: return policy, cancel policy, etc.) and any changes in policies to your customers
- Regularly communicating with your customers about the status of their good or service – keep them apprised of what is happening and what they can expect (ex: your order was shipped today, or it is due to arrive in 2 days)
- Providing multiple channels – phone, email, chat, text – for customers to communicate with you to ask questions and resolve any issues or concerns
- Establishing relationships with your financial partners; have clear descriptors of your services on cardholders’ statements
- Utilizing a service to try to deflect chargebacks from occurring in the first place or to notify you a dispute is about to be received so you can refund the transaction and stop the dispute proactively
- Ensuring you have a strong fraud prevention platform and strategy in place to help you to reduce your costs, protect your business from losses, and improve customer experience
If a chargeback does occur, merchants can act by:
- Identifying the root cause. Analyze and learn from them to improve processes, especially your fraud defenses.
- Responding quickly. Do not wait until the reply by date to respond to avoid any potential issues identified by your financial partner, such as a missing document or poor image, leaving you with little time to address and correct it.
- Tracking your disputes. This allows you to quickly adjust to unexpected increases as well as identify declines in expected win rates as early as possible.
- Thinking about working with a professional service. Professional chargeback management services will help to reduce costs, increase win rates and recoveries, and provide insight into where the industry is going.
- Understanding your cost structure. Many financial institutions charge fees upon receipt or when you respond, per page sent, as well as how it is sent. Understanding the fees you pay to represent a chargeback is critical to identifying if you should fight a chargeback in the first place.
Mitigating chargebacks requires an upfront, proactive approach as well as backend, improved focus.
3) What are some of the top warning signs or red flags that merchants can be on the lookout to help screen for fraudulent orders?
There are several potential warning signs for fraudulent behavior – here are some of the top warning signs or red flags to keep an eye out for:
- Data: Data elements or combinations of data elements associated with past fraud or malicious activity
- Uncommon Behavior: Out of pattern purchases and/or behavior, account updates that change email or phone numbers (may be a signs of an account takeover)
- Scripted/bot attacks: Orders placed in milliseconds as compared against the general population
- High risk indicators: Newly created email addresses, IP addresses from unusual countries, device attributes indicating the presence of malware or it has been rooted/jailbroken, excessive distance calculations, and many more
4) How can ‘friendly’ or accidental chargebacks be prevented (i.e. when a spouse or family member makes a purchase you’re not aware of and it’s reported as fraud)?
If there’s no malicious intent, merchants can navigate ‘accidental’ chargebacks with the below three preventative measures:
- Enabling a second factor of authentication. Many merchants and card issuers offer this capability to verify a purchase before it is authorized. In this use case, a verification SMS message may be sent to a parent/guardian’s mobile phone to approve a purchase made by a family member enabling a real-time decision to be made, avoiding a potential chargeback.
- Adding “Do not recognize” labels (lack of context about a purchase). Many accidental chargebacks arise because the descriptor language on a cardholder statement may be vague or not intuitive as to what was purchased. To combat this problem, many issuing banks are augmenting their processes to increase the information displayed to the cardholder or available to their customer service representatives to help the cardholder better assess whether the charge is recognized or not.
- Utilizing a service to provide more information to the issuer about the transaction. These services help merchants get purchase, fulfillment, and policy data in front of the cardholder or Issuer customer service representative. They take the form of additional data when you expand the transaction on the online statement, providing digital receipts showing purchase details, or simply allowing you to add your logo next to the purchase.
5) What are the strongest types of evidence/ proof a merchant or credit card company can have to help indicate whether a chargeback is invalid or fraudulent?
While this will differ for each card network based on their individual rules and policy requirements, generally speaking, the more compelling evidence a merchant can provide, the greater chance they may have to win a dispute. This could include:
- Proof the card was present at time of purchase;
- Proof the person making the transaction was an authorized user; and,
- Proof the services or goods were provided/fulfilled
Understanding and providing compelling evidence will help ensure merchants have the best chance at winning these types of disputes.
6) What are the most common types of chargeback fraud?
Chargeback fraud occurs when an individual purposely files a chargeback after they have received the goods or services. It can occur for many reasons, but typically the most common cause is “buyer’s remorse” – when a consumer receives the goods or services they purchase, feels regretful about it and desires a different outcome. Many times the consumer can fix this by speaking directly with the merchant but if that doesn’t result in a desirable outcome, they may turn to their issuing bank and open a chargeback. Another common reason is descriptor confusion, which happens when a consumer looks at their statement and doesn’t recognize the charge. Because the issuing bank displays the statement, their natural inclination is to dispute the charge instead of first contacting the merchant to better understand the details of a purchase.
7) Please explain how to prioritize which chargebacks to dispute?
This is at the merchant’s discretion but typically chargebacks are prioritized by:
- Reply by Date (date by which a merchant must respond to the acquiring bank)
- Amount (higher amounts before lower amounts)
- Reason Code (why did the cardholder dispute the charge)
- Card Network (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, etc.)
8) Are there any types of alert services that track those who regularly engage in fraudulent chargeback activity? If yes, please explain.
Alert services help notify merchants when a dispute is about to be filed but a key challenge still remains: identifying habitual or suspicious fraudulent chargeback activity. In partnership with our merchants, Accertify addresses this problem today by natively integrating fraud management and chargeback management capabilities into our platform. The fraud management side continually strengthens via feedback from the chargeback management side, which makes it more challenging for a habitual chargeback offender to get away with fraudulent behavior. Some merchants may implement due to advanced fraud screening that incorporates prior chargeback history and additional risk signals to make a determination to approve an order.
9) How is Accertify helping its customers deal with chargebacks?
Accertify helps merchants increase revenue recovery, reduce manual labor and cut costs, and improve the customer experience. We do this by:
- Providing a centralized platform and process, which helps merchants to manage their chargebacks.
- Configuring the system to drive efficiency into merchant processes related to chargebacks.
- Ensuring the platform comes with dashboards, reporting, and data analytics to help the merchant monitor their chargebacks in a proactive way.
- Connecting the platform directly to the merchant and their banking partners and other service providers. This means merchants can automate the end-to-end process.
- Allowing the merchant to proactively address the pre-dispute process by connecting to chargeback deflection and alert services.
- Offering a full managed chargeback option where we do all the work and all the lifting on behalf of the merchant, for those merchants who do not have the time to manage chargebacks themselves.
- Providing access to our best-in-class customer service and our decades of chargeback experience. This is represented by our 2020 NPS score of 76.
About Jeff Wixted
Jeff is responsible for leading the company’s global product strategy, and technical sales functions. Jeff joined Accertify in 2009 and has built and diversified Accertify’s Interceptas® Case Management Platform to address the complete payment lifecycle – fraud management, chargeback management, and payments. Jeff has helped grow Accertify from a small start-up to a global organization with a leading market share in the retail, travel and hospitality, and entertainment and ticketing industries. Jeff also serves as the Treasurer on the Global Board of Directors on the Merchant Risk Council, the preeminent fraud and payments organization focused on merchants. Prior to his current role, Jeff was the Director of Sales Engineering, responsible for leading a global team to present, position, and consultatively sell Accertify’s solutions.
Before joining Accertify, Jeff focused on building and leading pre-sales and professional services teams in the enterprise software space. Jeff has successfully led many start-up organizations through periods of hyper-growth and change and is skilled at building relationships with technical individuals as well as with C-level executives.
Accertify, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Express, is a leading provider of fraud prevention, digital identity, device intelligence, chargeback management, and payment gateway solutions to customers spanning diverse industries worldwide. Accertify’s suite of products and services helps companies grow their business by driving down the total cost of fraud, simplifying business processes, and ultimately increasing revenue. For more information, please visit www.accertify.com.