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E-Business Secrets

Selling downloads requires special anti-fraud measures
A few extra steps can save frustration and cash

By  Brian Livingston March 14, 2003  

I've received a great deal of positive feedback on the little-known tricks to reduce credit card chargebacks and fraud that I published on Feb. 12 and Feb. 19. I'm still hearing some new ideas, such as the ones I recently learned from Mike Irene. He's the owner/operator of http://Daypoint.com, a site that grosses more than $100,000 a year selling downloadable software.


I'll let him explain the extra techniques he uses to guard against fraudulent transactions, which may be equally important for you no matter what you sell:

"The problem of credit card fraud for software vendors is compounded by the lack of shipping physical products to a verifiable street address. When a chargeback occurs, credit-card processors require proof of sale. Since no card swipe, imprint, or shipping receipts are available for a software download transaction, the vendor must reverse the sale and often incurs a penalty fee.

"In addition to your suggestions, there are a few more methods that have nearly eliminated chargebacks for my site:

"1. IP LOGGING AND REVERSE DNS LOOKUP. Shopping cart and credit-card processing software can log the IP address for every transaction. Punch this IP address into free Web sites such as CheckDomain.com to obtain the country of origin [where the user's computer is]. If the country for the IP address does not match the customer's information, it is usually a fraudulent order. The most common fraud is where offshore hackers steal American credit-card information which often includes the correct billing address for the stolen card (thus AVS does not help).

"2. WEB-MAIL RED FLAG. Free Web-mail domains (Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) are notorious ways to shield the true identity of a customer. Sites such as Antifraud.com and others maintain lists of free Web mail domains that can be used to find anonymous mail accounts.

"3. PHONE VERIFICATION.It sounds obvious, but frequently the phone number submitted for a fraudulent order is just a random number that has no relationship to the card holder. Sometimes the number is real but the card holder does not realize that their card information has been stolen. When in doubt, call the customer!

"The above seems like a lot of work to ferret out 'evil-doers,' but it's well worth spending a few extra minutes -- especially if you are selling higher-cost, digital merchandise."

Reader Irene will receive a certificate for a book, CD, or DVD of his choice for sending me a tip that I printed.

For more information, Antifraud.com's Online Fraud Prevention Tips are at: http://www.antifraud.com http://bri.li/4e83

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Livingston's top 10 newspicks o' the week

1. "World of Ends" paper makes waves with its Internet vision: http://www.worldofends.com http://bri.li/44b

2. Ten steps that got a Web business running for less than $300: http://www.startupjournal.com http://bri.li/833

3. To grow your e-mail list, make your subscribers love you: http://www.webpronews.com http://bri.li/c1b

4. Does your online store fail this search-engine test? http://www.internetnews.com http://bri.li/1003

5. E-businesses can buy names in dot-cn ( China ) on March 16: http://www.silicon.com http://bri.li/13eb

6. Paul Graham comes up with new, better spam-filtering ideas: http://www.paulgraham.com http://bri.li/17d3

7. A check box marked "on" isn't permission to send e-mail: http://www.clickz.com http://bri.li/1bbb

8. How to develop Web pages that really suck people in: http://www.sitepoint.com http://bri.li/1fa3

9. The Ten Commandments (plus a few) of cool home page design: http://www.coolhomepages.com http://bri.li/238b

10. Can you tell a real photo from a digital fake? Let's see: http://www.museumofhoaxes.com http://bri.li/2773

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When you're feeling frustrated and you just want to let off some steam for a minute, fire up the Whack-a-Client game and see if you can rack up a score by bashing a few pesky vice presidents with your mouse.

The game is a product of TemplateKit.com, a Web design company that sells various HTML templates intended for e-mail newsletters, bid proposals, and other uses. See: http://www.templatekit.com http://bri.li/c3b3

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Replacement links for last week's picks

A technical problem prevented some of the links in the last issue from working after a few days. (If an E-Business Secrets link ever fails to work for you, visit BrianLivingston.com a day or two later to see if a corrected link is posted there.) Here are some new, substitute links:

Hiveware'sfree Enkoder service computes an encrypted array:

http://www.hiveware.com http://bri.li/7592

Duncan Wilcox explains link text value in Google rankings:

http://duncan.focuseek.com http://bri.li/832

Examples of the latest talking and question-answering bots:

http://www.pandorabots.com http://bri.li/c3b2

 http://www.pandorabots.com http://bri.li/d73a

http://www.pandorabots.com http://bri.li/e6da

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brian Livingston is publisher of http://www.BriansBuzz.com. Research director is Vickie Stevens. Brian has published 10 books, including:

Windows Me Secrets: http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/0764534939

Windows 2000 Secrets: http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/0764534130

You'll receive a gift certificate good for a book, CD, or DVD of your choice if you're the first to send Brian a Top Story or Wacky Web Week he prints. Send tips to mailto:Brian@BriansBuzz.com with "tip" in the subject line.

Brian Livingston is publisher of BriansBuzz.com. Send tips to him at brian@briansbuzz.com.

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