Preventing Online Fraud in
Your Flower Shop
Watch for these seven signs of suspicious orders.
The Internet is a wonderful way for florists to reach a larger audience,
and it gives customers a convenient way to shop at all hours. With the
advent of electronic transactions comes the possibility of fraudulent
orders, however. This, in turn, can result in big losses for your
Credit-card theft is a huge industry. Numbers are easily
stolen by those in service positions (waiters, cashiers, etc.) who
handle credit cards or via customer-service personnel who take orders
over the phone. Once a crook has the card verification value (CVV)
number (the three-digit number to the right of the signature strip on
Visa, MasterCard and Discover cards and the four-digit number toward the
front right on American Express cards), itís easy for him/her to order
merchandise online because those numbers are the only ďidentificationĒ
many Web sites request.
Seven Warning signs of fraudulent orders
Fortunately, most online thieves
generally make mistakes. If you monitor your shopís Web-site orders
carefully, you should be able to catch most of the bad guys. Here are
the points to watch for.
The senderís name should appear on the credit card, in the
signature of the card message and, often, in the e-mail
address. If the name on the credit card is different from
the others, this could indicate fraud.
Is the card message a mess? Misspelled words, improper
grammar, missed punctuation and capitalization are often
seen on fraudulent orders.
Is the senderís name included in the message on the
enclosure card? Most fraudulent orders have unsigned cards,
or the cards are signed with nicknames or initials that do
not match those on the credit card.
Is the senderís phone number the same as the recipientís but
their addresses are different?
Is the senderís area code the correct one for his/her state?
www.allareacodes.com to make sure it is a match.
Is the postal abbreviation for the state wrong? For example,
IO for Iowa (should be IA), AR for Arizona (should be AZ),
MS for Massachusetts (should be MA), etc.? Everyone should
know their home stateís abbreviation; if itís wrong on the
order, the order is almost always fraudulent.
Is the order for roses or some other large arrangement, and
does it have a lot of add-ons such as a teddy bear, balloons
and chocolate? Itís easy to spend money when itís not your
to do when your suspicions are aroused
One or two of these warning signs may not be cause for alarm, but if
there are more than two, take a closer look. Credit-card transactions
often come back as chargeable, before the real cardholder or the bank
discovers the card has been compromised.
First, place the order on hold, and call the sender. Leave a
message that more information is needed to process the credit card. If
it is a fraudulent attempt, the sender will never call back.
Next, research the name and address given for the sender. The
Web site www.dexknows.com is
a good place to look up information as well as reverse-search a phone
number; www.zabasearch.com can
help confirm an address. If a Dex or Zaba search comes up with a
different phone number from the one listed on the order, call that
number as well. Leave a message that something on his/her order needs
confirmation. If itís the rightful credit-cardholder, he/she will return
your call right away.
When an Internet order raises doubts, pay attention. Once
itís been delivered or forwarded to another florist, your shop will be
out money that will likely never be recovered.
Koomen is a freelance writer and an employee of Cactus Flower Florists,
which has six retail locations throughout the Phoenix Valley.