Address Changes: A Growing e-Commerce Fraud Tactic

Changes in customers’ shipping addresses is one of the key ways that thieves are now getting away with online credit card fraud, financial experts say. Changing addresses in hacked credit card accounts provides a way for thieves to receive delivery of goods purchased with stolen payment card accounts, Julie Conroy, an analyst at financial services research and advisory firm Aite Group, told Internet Retailer. “Account takeover is sharply on the rise for e-commerce merchants, thanks to the waves of database breaches in which online credentials have been compromised. A key indicator of account takeover is a change to the shipping address,” Conroy said. Conroy found out about the growing online fraud tactic after interviewing 20 large e-commerce retailers that have more than $500 million in annual online transactions each. Customers with different billing and shipping addresses have also long been indicators of potential fraudulent accounts. While many orders where the shipping and billing addresses are different may be legitimate, online retailers should watch out for requests to send items to hotels, Post Office boxes, and guest houses, advises card payment solutions firm Streamline. To combat the change in address problem, Conroy suggests utilizing risk management tools, including fraud detection software. She recommends ID Analytics' eCommerce software suite, which alerts online merchants to potentially fraudulent transactions based on modified account information, such as IP addresses and account numbers, that have been associated with prior online fraud. Streamline also suggests watching out for these other key indicators of online card fraud:
  • Transactions on several cards where the billing address matches but there are different and various shipping addresses.
  • Multiple transactions on a single card over a very short period of time.
  • Requests for urgent delivery. While this could be genuine, rush orders are common in fraud scams that aim to obtain goods for quick resale before the card is reported stolen.
  • Overseas shipping addresses, particularly with a new customer or an unusually large order.
  • The use of multiple cards beginning with the same first six digits, offered immediately after the previous cards are declined.
  • Customers offering multiple different cards, one after another without hesitation, when previous cards are declined.
  • Orders shipped to a single address but purchased with various cards