Skip to main content

CAFC Bulletin: Card‐Not‐Present (CNP)

Using a credit card online

CNP Fraud is the unauthorized and/or fraudulent gathering, trade and use of payment data (card numbers, expiry dates and passwords). For CNP to occur, the data must be used in instances where the card and cardholder are not present (via phone, email, fax, or website).

First, a fraudster places an order for a product or a service via a merchant’s Card‐Not‐Present channel. The merchant processes the payment and provides or delivers the product(s) or service(s). Yet, the payment information provided is stolen. Eventually, the real cardholder w i l l identify and dispute the unauthorized charge. As a result, the merchant receives a chargeback and must put back the amount charged on the stolen card(s). It is important to remember that any merchant who accepts CNP orders can become a victim. Fraudsters also like to revisit merchants where their scam has been successful.

One variation of the scam sees the fraudster ask the merchant to overcharge the stolen card. Then, they will ask the merchant to forward funds to a third party. By doing so, fraudsters are turning stolen credit cards into cash.

Warning Signs – Common Red Flags

Customer Flags
  • Orders made from one IP address, but using different names, addresses, and payments
  • Email addresses from free email service
  • Many card numbers provided for one order (cards keep getting declined)
  • Purchaser name and cardholder name are different
Product / Order Flags
  • Larger than normal orders
  • Many orders for the same product; especially “big ticket” items
  • Orders from repeat customers that differ from their regular spending patterns
  • Orders using the same customer or payment information, but many IP addresses
Delivery Flags
  • Customer requests “rush” or “overnight” delivery
  • Single payment information used for many shipping addresses
  • Billing address different than shipping address
  • Request that extra funds be sent to a third party

How To Protect Yourself

  • Know the Red Flags and verify every order request received
  • Before shipping merchandise, verify the information provided by the customer (telephone number, email address, shipping address, etc.)
  • Be aware of request for priority shipments for fraud‐prone merchandise
  • Verify priority shipping requests when the shipping and billing addresses do not match
  • For suspicious orders, contact your payment processor. Verify the security measures to prevent victimization and reduce unwanted chargebacks
  • Never accept overpayments to forward funds to a third party

Merchants who accept CNP orders can lower their risks of fraud by using the automated verification tools supported by their payment processors.

If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, please contact the Canadian Anti‐Fraud Centre at 1‐ 888‐495‐8501 or report online at www.antifraudcentre.ca.

This document is the property of the CAFC. It is loaned to your agency/department in confidence and it is not to be reclassified, copied, reproduced, used or further disseminated, in whole or part, without the consent of the originator. It is not to be used in affidavits, court proceedings or subpoenas or for any other legal or judicial purposes. This caveat is an integral part of this document and must accompany any information extracted from it.