The holiday season is upon us. You might already be rolling your eyes at all the holiday-themed commercialization creeping its way into our lives. But if you’re a merchant, you’re also licking your chops because sales go up for just about everybody during this time, amid all the social pressure to amass credit card debt. That said, a spike in returns, fraud and chargebacks always follow. Here the main things you need to be doing right now to prevent the dreaded holiday sales hangover.


It’s important to configure your website and payment gateway with the proper security protocols. Ensure your website has an SSL certificate installed. Make sure your gateway requires the Card Certification Value (CVV) for purchases. Also make sure your gateway has AVS authentication to match the credit card to its billing address. And finally, you should be verifying your transactions with 3DSecure protocols. Without SSL, AVS, CVV, and 3DS, you’re just giving away revenue when disputes arise.


I think we say this about every other article, but that’s how important it is: capture and organize your transaction data. Comprehensive transaction data is your best weapon against fight friendly fraud. If you have proof of delivery or documentation of cardholder interaction with your goods and services, you win the dispute! So make sure you’re keeping delivery confirmation, user logs, IP addresses, and device fingerprinting in an organized and accessible manner.


Cardholders are already accustomed to simply going to their issuing bank with disputes. So in addition to your goods and services, you also have to sell them your customer service. Do not hide your contact information and include within it as many options as possible: email, chat, phone. You should inform your customers of your return policies, but it is perhaps more important that they know they can come to you with their issues, regardless. You may also consider extending your window for returns through the first quarter to ensure your disputes don’t become chargebacks.


Present your customer with a cascade of support options that cater to their preferences. Ideally, you should have a way for customers to initiate and resolve disputes online. Maybe you can resolve their disputes through an interactive voice response (IVR) system, but always include the option to talk to a person up front. You may have enough resources in house to handle support issues that stem from your sales volume. But if you’d rather not have your people dealing with late night support issues, a call center is going to help prevent those disputes from ending up as chargebacks.

The holidays are meant to be a time of celebration and increased conversions. But they also come with the unwanted side effects of fraud, chargebacks and dreadful music. There’s not much you can do to stop the music, but if you take these steps now, you can block much of the fraud and chargebacks.