If you’re a business or merchant, you’ve likely noticed a surge in credit card disputes and chargebacks recently. While occasional disputes are inevitable and some are genuinely legitimate—stemming from stolen cards or defective products—there’s an alarming rise in what’s termed “friendly fraud.”
Understanding Friendly Fraud
Friendly fraud, up by 20 to 30 percent, according to Visa’s Chief Risk Officer Paul Fabara, involves customers deceitfully exploiting the system. It occurs when a customer purchases from your business and then initiates a dispute, falsely claiming non-receipt or dissatisfaction despite receiving the product as described.
Impact on Businesses: Real-Life Examples
The consequences can be dire. Take, for instance, a restaurant owner facing a staggering 30 percent increase in disputes, causing financial losses amounting to thousands every month. Fighting back these disputes proves successful about 40 percent of the time, but the toll on businesses is undeniable.
Strategies for Merchants: Mitigating Friendly Fraud
To combat this trend, merchants must take proactive measures. Firstly, eliminating easy chargebacks involves ensuring clarity in billing statements. Ambiguities in your business name might trigger disputes. Additionally, being attentive to customer inquiries and complaints is crucial, even if not immediately offering refunds.
The Power of Clear Descriptions and Customer Service
The devil is in the details. Ensuring precise product descriptions leaves no room for ambiguity. Federal Trade Commission notices emphasize that merchants are accountable for any lack of clarity, potentially leading to chargeback losses. Exceptional customer service also plays a pivotal role in preempting disputes.
Documenting Transactions: Building Your Defense
In cases where disputes persist, robust documentation becomes your shield. Maintaining thorough records—receipts, shipping details, and any correspondence—bolsters your defense against unwarranted chargebacks. Additionally, reaching out to consumers with evidence can sometimes resolve disputes amicably.
Unveiling the Merchant’s Plight
Often, consumers remain unaware that chargebacks directly impact merchants, believing banks absorb the losses. Educating them about this can sometimes dissuade unjust disputes, leading to potential withdrawals of claims.
Beyond Mitigation: Legal Recourse
In extreme cases, legal action becomes necessary. Some merchants have resorted to legal action against customers attempting to exploit the chargeback system for undeserved gains. However, legal action should be approached cautiously, seeking advice from legal experts before proceeding.
Future Challenges and Vigilance
Looking ahead, the surge in disputes may persist as consumers grapple with financial strains. Merchants need to brace themselves, understanding they could become easy targets for those seeking to exploit the chargeback mechanism for personal gain. Vigilance and proactive measures remain the keys to navigating this challenging landscape.
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