IndieCommunication: Fraud Alert

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Here, the IndieCommerce team highlights the warning signs of a new type of e-commerce fraud.


When your store reports suspected fraud on your IndieCommerce site, we check the entire network of IndieCommerce stores to see if similar fraud is taking place on other member sites. This allows us to see patterns and alert members to fraud before they process bad online orders.

Over the past week, we’ve noticed instances of a new and quite sophisticated form of fraud, for which the usual warning signs that we ask members to look for may not apply. For this new type of fraud, we’d like you to keep an eye out for three to four of the following warning signs:

1. Orders are for 1–3 titles and may total less than $100.

2. The order is being placed by someone who is not within 100 miles of your store.

To check this, we’ve created a new feature that tells you the general location of the customer that placed the online order. It takes the location of the customer’s IP address and displays it for you:

Example of IP address location on IndieCommerce page

Also, if the IP location is not near either the shipping or the billing address that was included in the order, that’s a red flag.

3. The order is being placed by someone who has a new account (and you are not familiar with that customer). To check this, click on the customer number when reviewing the order.

Location of customer number on IndieCommerce site

Clicking on the customer number will take you to a page like this:

Member history location on IndieCommerce site

A red flag on this page would be a recently opened customer account.

4. If the “Ship To” address and credit card “Billing Address” do not match, that’s a red flag.

5. If the “Ship To” address and credit card “Billing Address” do match, you should still check the location of the IP address. If the ship to/billing address is nowhere near the IP address location, consider it a red flag.

It’s important to note that seeing just one or two of the red flags above is not really enough to cancel an order, but if you see three or four of them, that’s a pretty good indicator of a suspicious order. You may want to give the customer a call, or e-mail staff@bookweb.org with the order information and we will be happy to assist you.

We have one report that these fraud orders are being placed by someone who is fulfilling winning bids for books on eBay. If someone contacts your store regarding an eBay order that you know nothing about, please ask them for their eBay order number and the seller’s eBay ID so that we can report them.

This warning is in regard to a particular type of fraud that we’ve seen recently. Online fraud is constantly evolving and we highly recommend that you review this document if you are responsible for processing online orders. If you suspect fraud, please don’t hesitate to contact us at staff@bookweb.org.