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What is friendly fraud and how can you prevent it?

what is friendly fraud

Small businesses face numerous challenges, with one of the most frustrating being friendly fraud. Friendly fraud, also known as chargeback fraud, occurs when a customer disputes a legitimate charge on their credit card statement, leading to a chargeback process. While the term might sound like an oxy-moron, friendly fraud is anything but friendly for small businesses and can have significant financial and operational impacts. Let’s explore what friendly fraud is, what causes it, and how you as a small business can avoid it.

What is Friendly Fraud?

Friendly fraud happens when a cardholder disputes a charge, claiming it was unauthorized, even though they or someone in their household made the purchase. This type of fraud often stems from misunderstanding or forgetfulness. For instance, a cardholder might not recognize a transaction on their statement, leading them to dispute it. Alternatively, a family member might make a purchase without informing the cardholder, resulting in an unintentional chargeback.

Causes of Friendly Fraud

  1. Transaction Confusion: Cardholders might not recognize the merchant’s name or the purchase details on their statement, leading them to believe it’s a fraudulent charge.
  2. First-Party Fraud: A household member might use the cardholder’s information without their knowledge, resulting in an unauthorized but legitimate purchase.
  3. Impulse Buying: Customers may make a purchase on a whim and later regret it, disputing the charge instead of requesting a refund.
  4. Subscription Services: Customers might forget about recurring charges or misunderstand the terms of a subscription service.

Why is Friendly Fraud Increasing?

Several trends have contributed to the rise of friendly fraud:

  • E-commerce Growth: The surge in online shopping has led to an increase in digital transactions, often resulting in transaction confusion.
  • Connected Devices: With more devices storing payment information, the likelihood of unauthorized household purchases increases.
  • Zero-Liability Policies: Many issuers have policies that protect cardholders from unauthorized purchases, often leading to automatic chargebacks without thorough verification.

The Impact of Friendly Fraud on Small Businesses

Friendly fraud can severely impact small businesses in several ways:

  1. Financial Losses: Chargebacks result in lost revenue for the original sale, and businesses must often pay additional fees.
  2. Operational Strain: Handling chargebacks requires time and resources, diverting attention from core business activities.
  3. Reputational Damage: High chargeback rates can harm a business’s reputation with payment processors and customers.
  4. Increased Costs: Businesses with high chargeback rates might face higher processing fees or account termination by payment processors.

How to Prevent Friendly Fraud

There are several processes and steps you can take as a small business owner to help combat or at least reduce the likelihood of receiving a friendly fraud chargeback. 

  1. Clear Communication: Ensure customers understand your cancellation, return, and refund policies. Provide clear and detailed product descriptions to avoid misunderstandings.
  2. Recognizable Billing Descriptors: Use billing descriptors that customers will recognize to prevent confusion when they review their statements.
  3. Order Confirmations: Send detailed order confirmation emails immediately after purchase, including transaction details, to jog customers’ memories.
  4. Enhanced Authentication: Implement multifactor authentication and require additional verification for high-value transactions.
  5. Excellent Customer Service: Provide responsive customer service to resolve issues quickly, reducing the likelihood of disputes.
  6. Fraud Detection Tools: Use tools that analyze transaction data for signs of fraud, such as unusual purchasing patterns or IP address discrepancies.

How to Respond

Despite best efforts, friendly fraud can still occur. Here’s how you can respond:

  1. Investigate: Review the disputed transaction and gather all relevant documentation, including order details, shipping information, and customer communications.
  2. Contact the Customer: Reach out to the customer to resolve the issue directly. Providing additional information might clarify the transaction and prevent the chargeback.
  3. Dispute the Chargeback: If the chargeback is unjustified, submit a chargeback representation to the issuing bank with all gathered evidence supporting the transaction’s legitimacy.
  4. Review and Improve: Analyze the causes of chargebacks and adjust your fraud prevention strategies accordingly. This might include improving communication, enhancing verification processes, or using advanced fraud detection tools.

Friendly fraud poses a significant challenge for small businesses, but with the right strategies and tools, it can be managed and mitigated. By understanding the causes and impacts of friendly fraud, implementing robust prevention measures, and leveraging solutions like Bankful, businesses can protect themselves from the financial and reputational damage caused by chargeback fraud. Investing in these practices not only safeguards your business but also enhances customer trust and loyalty, paving the way for sustained growth and success.

How Bankful Can Help

We  offer comprehensive solutions to help small businesses combat friendly fraud. Here’s how:

  • Advanced Fraud Detection: Bankful’s platform uses sophisticated algorithms to detect and prevent fraudulent transactions before they occur, reducing the risk of friendly fraud.
  • Chargeback Management: Bankful provides tools and support for managing and disputing chargebacks effectively, helping businesses recover lost revenue and maintain a good standing with payment processors.
  • Detailed Reporting: With Bankful’s detailed transaction reports and analytics, businesses can better understand their chargeback trends and take proactive measures to prevent future occurrences.
  • Customer Support Integration: Bankful integrates with customer support systems to streamline communication and resolve disputes quickly, enhancing customer satisfaction and reducing the likelihood of chargebacks.

Contact us for free consultation today to learn more.

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