Contacting Cardholders

As you review orders for potential fraud, when is it helpful to speak directly to the cardholder?

When Is It Worthwhile?

First, consider whether it’s worth the time to call at all. Researching contact information and then calling adds a significant amount of time to the review process, in exchange for the possibility of certainty. If the expected benefit of that certainty is pretty low, though, you’re better off just making a judgment call and moving on.

Phone or Email?

In general, you’re more likely to reach a fraudster rather than the cardholder via email rather than over the phone, and it’s harder to distinguish fraudsters’ email addresses from cardholders’ email addresses as well. Creating a new email account takes a matter of seconds, while obtaining a new mobile or landline number is considerably more difficult. There are ways to obtain Voice over IP (or VoIP) phone numbers more quickly, but fortunately there are also ways to look these up. For this reason, verifying an order (that is, confirming it was legitimate and releasing the hold) through email is generally inadvisable.

For legitimate customers, though, it’s usually worth sending an email just to let them know they should look out for a phone call.

Precautions When Calling

It's possible that you can be on a call with a fraudster, so always take precaution when asking about orders.

There are services available that can do reverse lookups on phone numbers, which can be helpful when trying to confirm that the phone number does in fact belong to the cardholder. These services will also usually indicate the carrier and line type. As mentioned above, VoIP lines are riskier because they are easier to generate.

When you do call, make a habit of asking a straightforward, innocuous question about the order. For example: “Could you confirm for me one of the items on your order?” This accomplishes two goals. First, you know you’re both thinking of the same transaction. If you call to ask someone if they’ve bought a watch on, but they’re thinking of an order last month for a sweater, asking what they ordered avoids confusion in case there’s a recent, unauthorized charge they’re unaware of. Secondly, if the person you’re speaking to is not the cardholder, taking several seconds away from the phone to tell you what they bought is a frequent giveaway.