Disputes & Fraud

These typically happen with online retailers who are selling goods through websites. As tradesman you are dealing with your customers face to face, so hopefully you will not encounter too many instances of fraud. All the information below is about how disputes and fraud are handled.

The main point to note is to highlight with a customer once a payment has been successfully made that on their card statement there will be a payment description that is either your name or your business name, depending on what you used when you set up the account with us. The majority of disputes are simply customers forgetting they have made the payment or not recognising the description of the payment.

A dispute (also known as a chargeback) occurs when a cardholder questions your payment with their card issuer. The issuer creates a formal dispute which immediately reverses the payment. The payment amount, along with a separate £15.00 dispute fee (for users in the United Kingdom) levied by the card network, is then deducted from your account balance.

There is a dispute resolution process through which you can respond and submit evidence to make your case that the payment was valid. If the dispute is found in your favour, the disputed amount and fee is returned back to you. If a dispute is upheld, the card issuer's decision is final and the cardholder's payment remains refunded.

Contact us if you need help with any such disputes. Disputes are an unfortunate part of accepting payments online, but they are not typically common. Disputes and the reasons for them (e.g., fraud) are ultimately your responsibility so you must take the appropriate actions to prevent and respond to disputes.

DISPUTE FEES

When a cardholder disputes a payment you've processed, you are charged a £15.00 dispute fee (for users in the United Kingdom) by the card network. This amount is withdrawn from your account balance along with disputed amount.

If you submit evidence against the dispute and it is found in your favour, Stripe reimburses you for the dispute fee. The card network does not actually refund the dispute fee but we feel our users should not be financially impacted by an invalid dispute.

If a dispute is accepted or unsuccessfully challenged, you are still responsible for both the dispute fee and the Stripe processing fee on the original payment.

If you receive a dispute, you may want to first get in touch with the customer and discuss it before you respond. It's possible that they simply did not recognize or remember the transaction when they viewed their statement.

For disputes that are the result of such a misunderstanding, your customer can ask their card issuer to withdraw the dispute. It's still important that you submit evidence to show that the payment was valid, however, and to ensure that the card issuer knows you are not accepting the dispute.

There is a limited period of time that disputes can be responded to (usually 7-21 days)—the amount of time available is provided within the dispute information. After that time has passed, no further responses or evidence can be submitted. Once you have submitted a response, it generally takes the card issuer 60-75 days to reach a final decision.

Withdrawing a dispute

Some customers may dispute a payment in error, not realizing it was legitimate. They can contact their card issuer and request the dispute be withdrawn. Even if your customer does this, the process involves a rigid series of formal communications between banking entities that still results in a long process.

Refunding a withdrawn dispute

If your customer is willing to withdraw a dispute so that you can issue a refund, it can still take 60-75 days for the dispute to be closed and the funds returned. Only when this happens can a refund be made.

Excessive dispute activity

Each card network (e.g., Visa, Mastercard, American Express) maintains a series of dispute and card fraud monitoring programs that apply to businesses operating with high dispute activity. Dispute activity above 1% is generally considered excessive, although this varies by card network. Excessive dispute activity not only affects your ability to process with Stripe, but with other processors as well—and can even result in fines from the card networks.

Should we ever see higher dispute activity or a significant increase in potentially fraudulent activity on your account, we'll proactively reach out to see how we can help.

FRAUDULENT

This is the most common reason for a dispute and happens when a cardholder claims that they didn't authorize the payment. This can happen if the card was lost or stolen and used to make a fraudulent purchase. It can also happen if the cardholder doesn't recognize the payment as it appears on the billing statement from their card issuer.

How to respond: First, try to get in touch with the cardholder. Sometimes people forget about payments they make. It's also possible that there is an additional cardholder on the account or someone they authorized to use the card (e.g., a spouse) made the payment and were unaware of it at the time. If this is the case, ask them to let their card issuer know that they want to withdraw the dispute.

Having the cardholder withdraw the dispute is by far the best way for you to make sure a dispute is resolved in your favour. If they agree to this, you should still submit evidence for the dispute. In addition to the following evidence fields, your evidence should include correspondence with the cardholder saying they would withdraw the dispute and a written statement from their card issuer confirming that the dispute has been withdrawn.

If you believe the payment was actually made using a stolen credit card, you will need to accept the dispute. The credit card networks place liability for accepting fraudulent payments with you, the business.

How to prevent FRAUD it: This is the hardest type of dispute to win so you should make sure to have clear communication with your customer and measures in place to avoid fraudulent payments.

For instance:

Make sure your customer knows how the payment will be labelled on their statement – it will be the name you put into your account.

Send receipts upon payment so your customers can recall what they paid for. If you ship physical products, consider shipping only to addresses that match a verified billing address or reaching out to the customer before shipping to a different addresses.

Avoiding fraudulent payments

A payment is considered fraudulent when the cardholder did not authorize it. Most fraudulent payments are made using stolen cards or card numbers. When a cardholder is notified that the payment has been made or they review their card statement, they contact their card issuer to dispute it.

Common types of online fraud

Online fraud is fundamentally different to fraud that occurs at brick-and-mortar businesses as it's harder to be certain that the person you're selling to is who they say they are. Some fraudsters adopt more sophisticated methods than just trying to make purchases on a stolen card.

When accepting payments online, it's important to be aware of the different kinds of fraud and what your liability is.

As Stripe users are responsible for fulfilling orders for customers, and possess the most information about their customer at the time of purchase, they are best equipped to determine whether or not a payment is potentially fraudulent. There are many indications of fraudulent activity that, while alone may seem fine, together can clearly indicate fraud.

With Radar for Fraud Teams card payments that have an elevated risk of fraud are automatically placed into review. However, you may want to create additional rules based on the following factors to place additional payments into review—or block them completely.

Although our recommendations can help prevent disputes and fraud, they cannot eliminate them completely. We want our users to be as informed as possible, both so that they can accept or refund any payments they believe are fraudulent and so they are equipped to accept the financial responsibility of any suspicious payments that enter their Stripe account.

Stripe's machine learning system continuously monitors all payments processed by our users. In rare cases, you may receive a notification from Stripe that a payment is suspected of being fraudulentafter it has already been processed. This can occur if we have detected further activity on the card which now suggests it's being used fraudulently, or if we receive an alert from the card network.

Although we notify you as soon as we become aware of any suspicious activity, it may be several days after a payment has been made. Keep in mind that this is not confirmation that a payment was fraudulent—only that we have reason to believe it is.

We provide this information to you to ensure that you're able to make an informed decision and take action where necessary (e.g., contact the customer or place their order on hold). If you have any concerns about the payment after reviewing it, we recommend refunding it immediately. This action immediately refunds it so it cannot then be disputed.

Best practices for preventing fraud

Using Radar for Fraud Teams, you can create rules to manage how your business handles incoming payments, blocking any that you would consider suspicious or placing them in review. There are also additional methods you can implement that work alongside any features of Radar for Fraud Teams that you use. You should also be aware of common types of fraud and make sure your business is best able to identify fraudulent payments.

  • Refund suspicious payments immediately
  • Contact customers to confirm their order
  • Use rules to automatically block payments or place them in review
  • Manually review payments
  • Delay shipping orders
  • Ship to a verified address
  • Set a custom statement descriptor for each payment
  • Verify your customer's identity

Even with all these methods, it's still possible for instances of fraud to occur. We provide detailed information about disputes and fraud so you can be as informed as possible as users are ultimately responsible for them.

It's important that you regularly evaluate your strategies to make sure they're effective and keep up with different ways fraudsters may try to commit fraud. Working together, Stripe's tools and your vigilance can work best to avoid disputes and fraud.