Accepting Credit Card Numbers by Phone

Accepting credit cards by phone is risky business to begin with. Almost all fraud involves taking a credit card by phone. Unfortunately, accepting credit cards over the phone is a common practice so we must recognize the risks associated from your point as a vendor as well as the risk to your customer.

Safety First

Fraud isn’t the only risk from a phone order. Never accept a credit card from someone when you know they are driving a vehicle. Ask them to call you back when they are no longer driving. The sound of metal crunching is an awful sound that more than one merchant has reported hearing while accepting a credit card by phone.

Who’s Listening

Customers calling in orders from busy airports, restaurants and other public places may be overheard giving all the details a thief needs to use that card in the future. Remind your clients of that fact if the background sounds noisy. Get creative if you need to and lead the call by asking the customer to read the last four digits of the card, then get their phone number. Next ask for the billing address followed by the first numbers of the card. This is the equivalent of scrambling the numbers. It can’t eliminate someone listening from getting the information but it is certainly better than blurting out the entire credit card number for the world to hear.

Always Use AVS

When you process a credit card taken over the phone, always use the Address Verification System (AVS). If you get a mismatch, you should assume this is credit card fraud and you should begin to take every precaution before service or merchandise is rendered. Call your customer back and verify their billing address. If necessary call your Merchant Services hotline and tell them you have a “Code 10” situation. This will start the ball rolling with the issuing bank to contact their cardholder and verify the transaction. Better safe than sorry.