I am having some problems with an order from overseas, and wondered
if others had any suggestions on avoiding such situations in future.
Since all my previous sales have been inside the United States, it
always seemed very straightforward - most of the time it involved
certified checks, money orders, or personal checks, or credit cards
through escrow services like Kagi or PayPal or Tradenable. I never
worried about the latter, figuring that they were probably worried
enough for both of us and would monitor closely for fraud. Personal
checks would clear in ten days, no problem.
This new order, for a bracelet, was paid almost in full with a credit
card. The customer is in a country that used to be part of the USSR.
Kagi took the order and said the card number was valid, so I went
ahead and purchased materials and got to work. I explained to the
customer that it would take me a while to tie the piece, but that I
would keep her informed, and that she would have to pay the balance
and shipping when the time came.
Now comes the difficult part. Several people have told me that they
will not do business with Eastern European connections except on a
cash basis, after having bad experiences. One person told me that the
problems repeatedly came up after a valid card was used, with a
chargeback after the fact, presumably due to stolen cards and disputed
I contacted Kagi and asked them how sure they were about this card.
They said “not very”, though in many more words. All they had done was
verify that it was a valid number and expiration date, apparently.
The customer has suddenly begun to act very nervous and demands that
I ship her the bracelet immediately. Still no sign of any payment of
the balance due, so I’m not going to do so, but it makes me very
A person in their fraud-prevention department is working with me to
find out more about the payment received so far. It’s on a card issued
in France, but he can’t find out any more about that until after the
weekend, when he expects to get records of the actual owner of the
card, to compare with the person who placed the order.
I’m also nervous because of some other things. The customer tells me
that due to high import duties, she doesn’t want me to assign a proper
value to the package. Since I’m charging her about eighteen hundred
dollars, I’m very reluctant to ship it without insuring it for full
value, and the ethical aspects are troubling as well. Her response was
to say she took all responsibility for any uninsured loss, which seems
a very devil-may-care attitude for someone who is so worried about
saving a paltry few hundred dollars.
So, here I am. I have no money. Kagi says they might have money for
me, unless they don’t, but they won’t be certain about that even after
they’ve paid me, since a victim of credit card fraud has weeks and
weeks to dispute a bill. I’m about to tell the customer that unless
she is willing to be patient and wait through a full billing cycle, I
will recommend that she just get a refund and either send me some form
of certified payment, or just forget the deal. Since she is acting so
strange that I am almost certain that I’m about to be cheated if I
ship to her, I suspect that I will never hear from her again.
What should I do in future? Should I just arbitrarily refuse to take
credit cards internationally, since the financial entities don’t seem
to pay much attention to them until after the damage is done? Should I
set a minimum wait time, like clearing personal checks, but long
enough for at least one credit card bill to arrive, thus reducing the
chance of disputed charges? What is the best method of secure payment
in such situations?
I’m by myself, and can’t afford to bring much legal pressure to bear,
especially across international boundaries, so I want to avoid
problems before they come up.
** Hanuman’s Response **
Beware of online transactions with customers from East Europe, USSR,
Indonesia and Malaysia. Use a good secure and anti fraud system, using
AVS ( Address Verification System ) and CCV1 (Last tree digits of the
card number), Manually call the bank and get authorization code, and
also make the customer to Fax you with his confirmation to charge his
card. With all these documents in hand you are almost [:-)] fraud
End of forwarded message