If you’re selling products on the web as your home-based business (or any business on the web) and you accept credit cards as a form of payment, you may have already met AVS.
AVS is the Address Verification System and this is how it is defined by MasterCard International
AVS immediately and automatically compares a customer’s billing address, which is provided with each order, to the statement billing address on file with the card issuer. This is a risk reduction technique for merchants doing business over the internet.
This is a basic level of fraud protection against someone trying to use a stolen credit card. If you are doing business on the internet (home business or otherwise), it’s highly advisable to activate the AVS in your shopping cart software. When an AVS mismatch occurs (a mismatch between the customer billing address on the order and the billing address on file in the AVS system) the customer’s transaction will be declined.
Unfortunately, sometimes innocent customers get caught in the cross fire of the AVS mismatch. If a customer has moved or changed addresses recently, they may not have contacted the credit card company yet. Even if they have contacted the credit card company, it takes several days for the AVS databases to be updated. Another scenario is government and corporate credit card buyers. Often the buyers are unaware of changes made in billing address information higher up in their administrative chain. Often customers will become upset because their card was declined and often they will blame your website for the error.
It’s important to realize that not all AVS mismatches are fraudulent activity and you should never treat your customer as a criminal (even though some of the people who trigger AVS mismatches may actually be). The best approach is to explain the AVS and ask the customer if there were any recent changes in billing information. Get the message across that the AVS is outside your shopping cart system and gently suggest they contact their credit card company. If you’re comfortable with their explanation for the error, you may even be willing to take on the risk and waive the AVS for their order. This happens to us yesterday with a $1200 order and I was not about to let it go through even though there was an upset customer. Whichever way you go, be kind to the customer and don’t be judgmental.