Tips to Use Social Media to Fight Off Fraud
Whether you’re a person who loves to live your life in a fishbowl of public scrutiny or you set all of your posts to “private,” there’s no denying the tremendous impact social media has had on all of us.
Merchants might not think of social media as a place to find information and insights about their chargebacks, but you might be surprised at how often friendly fraudsters spill their secrets on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms—and if you’re resourceful, you can use these postings to your advantage. How can merchants use social media to make a winning case against fraudulent chargebacks?
People who engage in friendly fraud—the act of filing a chargeback under false pretenses to steal from merchants, essentially—don’t always think of themselves are criminals or “real” fraudsters. Too often, they tell themselves they’re just being smart, using loopholes in the system to their advantage at the expense of faceless businesses.
Maybe that’s why some people will brag about getting stuff “for free” by purchasing it and charging it back. They wouldn’t take such a cavalier attitude talking about shoplifting or burglarizing their neighborhood, but they’re happy to normalize and encourage the act of filing fraudulent chargebacks.
This attitude may be bad news for merchants, but there’s a silver lining. When people are careless or overconfident enough to post proof of their chargeback fraud to social media, merchants can use those postings as compelling evidence in chargeback representment. If you can show from the cardholder’s own words or photos that the claims they’re making aren’t true, you should be able to convince their issuing bank to reverse the chargeback.
Which Chargebacks Can Be Fought With Social Media Evidence?
While the specific reason codes may vary, all of the major card networks will consider social media postings as evidence for the following chargeback reasons:
- Product/Services Not Received
- Product/Services Not As Described
- Cancelled Recurring Billing
When fighting chargebacks, always look up the reason code and review the guidelines for acceptable forms of evidence. Issuers will try to minimize the time they spend reviewing claims, so if you submit evidence that doesn’t meet their criteria, don’t expect them to look at it.
What are the Best Practices for Using Social Media Evidence?
Social media postings can be a compelling form of evidence, but you have to be careful about how you use it. Whether the cardholders is defrauding you or not, they have privacy rights that must be respected, and if you cross those boundaries in an attempt to gather evidence against them, you may not only lose the chargeback case, but expose yourself to further liability.
Here’s the two most important rules to follow:
- Only use postings made by the cardholder.
- Only use public postings that can be viewed by anyone.
That means you definitely can’t use a personal account friend or follow the cardholder so you can use their private photos as evidence. You also can’t use a public post made by one of the cardholder’s friends—even though it’s in public view, the friend isn’t involved in the chargeback case and you can’t bring them in as a “witness.”
Likewise, before you submit a posting as evidence, you’ll want to edit out the names and faces of any people in the post who aren’t the cardholder—this won’t necessarily impact the case, but it’s the responsible thing to do.
That covers the biggest “don’ts”—but what about the things you can do to strengthen your social media evidence? The most important thing is to include as much corroborating data as possible.
That means taking screenshots that include timestamps and geolocation, which many social media posts helpfully include by default.
You may also want to include related postings that provide context for the evidence you’re submitting.
What Kind of Evidence Can You Find On Social Media?
Although you will see the occasional self-incriminating confession from fraudsters who can’t resist bragging about their latest score, what you really want is clear-cut evidence that the issuing bank will immediately understand. Photos that clearly falsify the cardholder’s dispute claims are the best social media evidence to find.
Here are a few typical examples:
- Claim: The cardholder says they purchased a jacket from the merchant, and it was never delivered.
- Evidence: The cardholder’s new Twitter profile picture shows them wearing the jacket.
- Claim: The cardholder says that the meal kit they ordered was not as described and contained unusable ingredients.
- Evidence: The cardholder made an Instagram post that shows them serving the finished meal, cooked exactly to specifications, on the delivery date.
- Claim: The cardholder says they tried to cancel a recurring billing transaction for a mobile game, but the merchant kept charging them.
- Evidence: The cardholder is still posting about the game on Facebook, referencing in-game events that took place after they said they tried to cancel their account.
If submitted with timestamps and a rebuttal letter that explains how the evidence relates to the claims made in the dispute, evidence like this has a strong chance of convincing the issuing bank that they’ve got a fraudulent chargeback on their hands.
Don’t forget that as important as it is to fight chargebacks, it’s even more beneficial to prevent them from happening at all—and you can use social media to help reduce your chargebacks. Increasingly, consumers expect to be able to interact with merchants in real time, on social media, instead of always having to go through traditional customer service channels.
If you see a customer on social threatening to file a chargeback against you unless you resolve their issue, take them seriously! While there are bad actors out there who just want to stir up negativity, it’s almost always in your best interest to find a way to make them happy—or at least let them feel like you gave them a fair hearing. Excellent customer service is a must for every merchant that wants to avoid chargebacks, and if you can provide it through social media, you can be even more proactive about resolving conflicts and building a great reputation for yourself.