Do you take credit cards through direct mail, over the phone, or online? Then you are at a higher risk of credit card fraud. And though statistics show credit card fraud is the number one fear of consumers, it should flat out terrify small businesses.

Though it’s a necessity for businesses that sell products to have some type of online presence, should you really trust taking orders directly online? How do you know if you are set up with a merchant account that will help you weed through fraud potential? How will you be covered as a small business owner?

To help you reduce your risk from online credit card fraud, keep these tips in mind.

Review Orders Carefully
Rather than leaving some fields optional, require more information to complete an order. The more information you ask for, the higher the likelihood of a fraudulent party to bail out before completing the order. Also make sure each order passes your credit card processor’s Address Verification Check.

Be Careful With Different Ship/Bill Addresses
While not always a sign of fraudulent behavior, this can be an identifying feature. If you are a small business, it may benefit you to place a call to the buyer and verify addresses. If its an existing customer, you can also watch and make sure it doesn’t seem out of character from their normal ordering patterns.

Watch For Free Email Addresses
With free email accounts like HotMail and Yahoo, you can grab a new account any time. Credit card scammers love to use these accounts because of their ease of use, and the fact that they are virtually untraceable.

Watch For Large First Time Orders
While that new five figure order may look good on paper, is it reality? Do you have large orders like this all the time? If not, think twice and verify before you release your product.

When In Doubt, Call The Customer
Always require a telephone number to verify orders. If you feel uncomfortable with any portion of the sales, call the customer to verify. Not only will the person with the stolen credit card be thankful, but you’ll avoid the time and effort it will take to clear up the fraudulent order.

It’s always better to be safe and secure upfront, than to wish for something later.

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