May 31, 2005, 12:00 AM

How Ice.com is avoiding chargebacks for high-ticket items

Before it started using a new web-based system to authenticate buyers’ identities, jewelry retailer Ice.com had to cancel more than 5% of high-risk orders. It has since cut that to under 1% with zero chargebacks, Ice says.

Before it started using a new web-based system to authenticate buyers’ identities, jewelry retailer Ice.com had to cancel more than 5% of high-risk orders. It has since cut that to under 1% with zero chargebacks, vice president of risk management Ezzie Schaff tells InternetRetailer.com.

“In the past, we had to cancel more than 5% of high-risk orders because we had no way of knowing if they were legitimate,” Schaff says. But with the web-based IDlive identity-checking system from IDology Group, Ice.com is able to verify the identity of nearly all orders, he says. And with only a small handful that still need further checking, Ice.com is able to devote staff to personally contact customers for verification, he adds.

Ice.com began using the IDlive system four months ago to authenticate the identity of buyers in orders determined by an in-house order management system to be high-risk, such as orders over $200 with different billing and ship-to addresses. It processes about 1,000 orders per month through the IDlive system, which is hosted by IDology, Schaff says.

After its in-house order management system has placed high-risk orders into a queue, a member of the Ice.com risk management staff will either telephone or e-mail the customer to explain that the retailer needs proof of identification before processing the order. By placing the customer’s name and either all or part of her Social Security number into the IDlive system, which consolidates information from thousands of public records, the retailer receives three questions based on the customer’s personal records. The questions, about such personal histories as past residential addresses or past jobs, are designed to be known only by the true person the online customer claims to be.

Ice.com then enters the customer’s answers into the IDlive system and waits a few seconds for an authentication of the customer’s identity.

The IDlive system can be set up to automatically interact with an online customer, who would fill out a pop-up form of questions and wait for an approval, but Ice.com wanted to conduct the process manually to directly learn how customers would react to the system, Schaff says. “So far they’ve been pleasantly surprised that we’re doing this,” he says, adding that customers say they appreciate Ice.com’s taking steps to prevent fraudulent use of their identities.

IDology’s IDlive service connects with a database of more than 4,000 sources of public records, including Social Security numbers, to verify that an online customer is the true holder of the credit card account being used for a purchase, says vice president and chief marketing officer Raye Croghan. She adds that the system can check specific details needed by particular types of retailers, such as when online wine sellers need to check a purchaser`s age.

IDology charges a one-time application fee of $100 plus per-transaction fees ranging from 25 to 85 cents depending on volume, Croghan says.

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