Using an Address Verification System (AVS) when processing your online credit card transactions can help to reduce number of fraudulent transactions you receive. However, most online merchants don’t know that using AVS can also reduce your number of legitimate orders.
Using AVS can hurt your conversion rates in two main ways.
1. If you set your AVS rules to reject all transactions that do not match both street address and zip code, you may be loosing legitimate sales from customers who do not understand that billing address needs to match address that their credit card statement is mailed to.
2. The more troublesome problem with AVS occurs when your customer has recently moved. Even if you update your billing address with your credit card company after you move, it can take up to 6 months or longer for them to update AVS database with your new information (even though they make sure that bill arrives at right address!)
The worst part about this delay is that often customers will blame merchant if their card gets rejected for this reason. If their credit card bill arrives at right address, they assume that their credit card company updated their information. When a card that they know should work gets rejected by your website, they often become angry with you, not their card provider!
This happened to me recently. I moved my family into a larger home over eight months ago and debit card that I use for most of my online purchases still gets rejected unless I use my old billing address, even though bank statement has come to our new address from day one!
The solution to first problem is quite easy. Simply make sure that you use a statement near your “Billing Address” fields telling your customers something along lines of, “To speed processing of your order, please ensure your billing address matches address on your credit card statement.”
Include this type of statement near your “Billing Address” fields and your AVS matches will improve.
In markets with historically low attempted fraud rates, you can also try loosening your AVS rules a bit. Most AVS systems check both number in street address and zip code. By setting your AVS rules to accept transactions that match for only one of two AVS numbers, but still rejecting transactions that do not match for both, you can improve number of successful transactions. If you attempted fraud rate is very low you can even try accepting transactions that fail both AVS checks, but flag transactions for additional follow up before shipping.