Mitigating risk as a seller: How to spot unusual buyer activity

Fraud can cost a business time and money - that’s why it pays to be vigilant of unusual account activity, where fraud could be lurking. Especially during the holidays. Here are some telltale signs of unusual buyer activity that may suggest fraudulent intent. If you see any of the 13 indicators below, you may need to take a closer look. And if you haven’t already, make sure to look at the six best practices to help prevent fraudulent payments from even taking place.

  1. Shipping address is in a high-risk country or location that’s known for fraud

    Are you seeing an abnormal number of payments from an unusual or unexpected location? While cross-border commerce is growing rapidly and there are benefits to accessing a global market some countries have gained a reputation for fraud. Payments from these countries may require closer scrutiny.

  2. An order is larger than normal

    Be cautious if you receive an order from a new customer that’s larger than your average order size, especially if it’s for a product that’s in high demand this holiday season, such as electronics.

  3. You receive an unusually large number of orders during an unusual time of day

    For example, you receive 10 orders from UK-based customers, all around 3am on the same day.

  4. You receive an unusually large number of international orders within a short period of time

    For example, you receive over 50 orders from customers outside the UK within a few days, when you normally receive only two international orders within a month.

  5. An order consists of multiple requests for the same item

    For example, a customer orders 50 pairs of the same shoe in various sizes. Ask yourself if it makes sense for a customer to order several of the same product.

  6. Several orders from different customers are shipped to the same address

    Fraudsters often steal credit cards from multiple people and ship the orders to a single address.

  7. The billing and shipping address don’t match

    Just because a customer ships the order to another address, it doesn’t automatically indicate fraud, but a legitimate customer is more likely to ship orders to their billing address. Look at all the order details to see if anything else appears unusual.

  8. A customer asks you to change the shipping address after the order has been paid for

    Make sure their address change makes sense. Fraudsters originally enter valid addresses so your fraud systems don’t catch them. Then, they contact you to change the address. Also keep in mind that if you decide to ship to another address, the purchase will no longer qualify for PayPal Seller Protection.

  9. You receive multiple credit cards for the same order

    Be cautious if the customer provides you with several different credit card numbers. The cards can be in the same name or different names. The fraudster may ask you to split up or create multiple transactions using the various cards. If you don’t already collect the credit card customer’s name, start requesting this information to help detect fraud.

  10. A customer asks for rush or overnight shipping

    Fraudsters like to receive merchandise quickly, regardless of the cost.

  11. The email address looks suspicious

    Look for email addresses that seem unusual, like knh$$, or undeliverable emails. Legitimate customers are more likely to use email addresses that contain their name.

  12. A customer overpays you

    If someone overpays you, don’t send the extra money back through a wire transfer, online banking transfer, or a pre-loaded money card. Overpayment scams are common. Instead, return the money through PayPal.

  13. The shipping address looks suspicious

    Before shipping an expensive order, make sure you know where the order is being shipped. Criminals may ship orders to freight forwarders, shipping companies, P.O. boxes, or vacant properties so they can remain anonymous.

    For more information on protecting your business during the holiday rush, you can also review these six steps to help prevent fraudulent payments.

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