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Credit cards are essential components of e-commerce. Although there are other ways to make payments on the Internet, the majority of e-commerce sites receive payment for goods and services via credit card. When consumers are dissatisfied with a transaction in which a credit card was used, or if their card was stolen and used illegally, it is possible for a charge-back to occur. In this event, the seller or merchant is billed back for the costs involved.

Merchants who deal with consumers face-to-face use a variety of steps to ensure a cardholder's legitimacy, including verification of the person's signature. When these precautions are taken, the bank that issued the credit card normally is responsible for any charge-backs due to fraud. However, when transactions take place without an actual card being presented to the merchant, as in e-commerce, the merchant is liable for fraud-related charge-backs.

With this in mind, online fraud is a major concern for companies engaging in e-commerce. According to an April 2001 report issued by the Worldwide E-Commerce Fraud Prevention Network, half of the businesses in the United States saw online fraud as a major problem. Because prosecuting offenders is very difficult, more than 30 percent of those surveyed listed it as the most significant threat. Planet IT revealed that Web merchants suffered higher charge-back rates than traditional offline retailers because malicious individuals had around-the-clock opportunities to attempt fraudulent purchases using various technologies.

In the early 2000s, companies like Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and Nike used real-time payment and risk management technologies from companies like CyberSource to reduce their risk. To decrease the incidence of online fraud at, Nike used CyberSource's Internet Fraud Screen Service that relied on 150 different factors to evaluate the risk of fraud in transactions before they were processed. Measures like these were unfortunate but necessary, not only to prevent losses for companies, but to prevent higher charges for consumers as well.


Miller, Keith. "Chargeback Control In The E-Shoplifting Age." Planet IT, June 17, 1999. Available from

"Nike Significantly Reduces Credit Card Fraud From Its Internet Storefront." CyberSource, May 30, 2001. Available from

Obie, Delilah. "The Mechanics of Credit Card Chargebacks.", August 21, 2000. Available from

Reardon, Marguerite. "CyberSource Helps Detect Consumer Fraud Online." Informationweek, March 6, 2000.

"Worldwide E-Commerce Fraud Prevention Network: U.S. Firms Concerned About Online Fraud." Nua Internet Surveys. April 10, 2001. Available from

SEE ALSO: Acquiring Bank; Electronic Payment; Fraud, Internet; Recurring Payment Transactions; Transaction Issues