November 19, 2003, 12:00 AM

Crooks are manipulating bill-to addresses in card transactions, study warns

Fighting fraud isn’t getting any easier. A study by ClearCommerce Corp. shows that even checking bill-to-addresses with card account addresses--long a standard method of preventing fraud--is becoming more susceptible to fraud.

Fighting fraud isn’t getting any easier. A study by ClearCommerce Corp. shows that even checking bill-to-addresses with card account addresses--long a standard method of preventing fraud--is becoming more susceptible to fraud. The study, conducted earlier this year, found that the chargeback rate for transactions cleared with the address-verification system, or AVS, rose to 0.95% from 0.2% last year.

Daniele Micci-Barreca, director of fraud solutions at ClearCommerce, says criminals are learning how to get around AVS by stealing complete account information or by creating what appear to be valid accounts. One increasingly common effort is to steal someone’s credit account billing statement from a mailbox.

Because criminals are taking these extra steps to have complete account and address information, transactions that show complete matches of address information--including the street address and ZIP code for both the purchase bill-to address and the home address where a valid account holder receives a credit card statement--are more likely to be fraudulent than transactions that show only partial matches of address data. Although transactions that showed no matches of address data still showed the highest chargeback rate, at 1.4%, the chargeback rate for complete matches, 0.95%, was more than twice that of partial matches, 0.4%

“For many merchants, an AVS match is a green flag, many don’t give it a second look,” Micci-Barreca says. But he warns that merchants should take extra precautions such as checking for a high number of orders on the same card account, or the same purchaser, perhaps identified by an e-mail address, making purchases on multiple cards.

 

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