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BlueSwitch8/4/20213 min read

eCommerce Fraud: the Top 5 Ways to Spot Suspicious Orders

Transaction fraud is a reality that every eCommerce company faces. In fact, Juniper Research estimates that retailers will lose $130 billion between 2018 and 2023 to CNP fraud. Fraud prevention solutions continue to find new ways to battle online fraud, but many merchants remain unaware of the most common risk factors on any order. Knowing what indicates fraud could mean hundreds of dollars in savings between lost labor, product, and fees. Here’s our shortlist for common ways to spot suspicious orders in any online business.

1. Multiple purchases in a short time frame.

When a card number is stolen, it is often tested to see whether a transaction will be approved. This is done by making a number of small purchases in a short period of time to see if any get approved. Once a card is approved, you’ll often see a much larger purchase follow. If you notice this pattern occurring on your site, it is likely fraud. You should investigate the order, request verification, or simply cancel it.

2. Missing or incorrectly spelled information.

While typos happen to everyone, any order that has major misspellings or errors is probably fraud. Even seemingly simple misspellings on names and addresses should be verified. Real customers will have no trouble doing so, and this will stop many bots and fraudsters.

The same is true for missing information. By requesting that your customers verify orders that have minor issues, you are showing that their protection is your priority. Plus, taking the time to make sure the orders are correct early on can save you if chargebacks are initiated or other problems occur later.

3. Address known for mail forwarding.

There are a number of addresses that are set up to simply forward packages on. Lists of these addresses can be found online, and most fraud prevention software checks these automatically. While it is entirely possible that a real customer is looking to have their order forwarded somewhere else, most customers will be ordering items directly to the end address.

As with other suspicious orders, these should be investigated and verified. If there are multiple purchases from different people to the same address in short period of time, this may also be indicative of fraud, especially if it is a mail forwarding address. Keep an eye out for orders with issues like these and start your own list of known problem addresses to make this process quicker.

4. Unusual navigation patterns.

Unlike the other methods on this list, this one may require a bit more research unless you have software that checks for behavioral analytics. However, it can be a great indicator of fraud. If you have a suspicious order, check the navigation pattern.

Unexpected activity will likely mean fraud. For example, customers do not enter a site through the checkout page. If you notice this is the first page of a session, it is likely a bot. Also, an order may be completed quickly if the customer came directly to the site for a specific product. However, in general, it will take customers more than a minute to enter the site, find the product, decide to purchase, and complete checkout. Any order completed in less time than that should be verified.

5. Bulk purchases/Unusual purchase pattern

Depending on what you sell, another good indicator for fraud may be bulk purchases. If you sell direct to consumers, it’s unusual for a single customer to buy a large number of exactly the same item – but it is common for fraud. They then sell the items for additional money once received. Because every business is different, you should consider what normal purchases look like for your company. If you see an order that seems off, investigate and verify it. It may save you lost merchandise.

Though fraud will affect every business at some point, you can minimize its impact by recognizing clear signs of fraud early. Additionally, putting in extra verification for your customers may actually help your conversion rate. Experian found that a lack of visible security features on a website was the top reason that customers abandoned transactions in 2018. Consider how you can increase security and communicate the most common risk factors to your employees to keep your bottom line rising.

Jackie Long is Blog Manager at NS8, a fraud prevention solutions company. NS8 provides abuse, fraud, and user experience protection tools. We use behavioral analytics, real-time user scoring, and global monitoring to optimize and protect against threats and give firms a better insight into their real customers. Visit to learn more.