March 5, 2021
• Guidance & Insights
• Products & Innovation
• Credit Card Processing
• PCI compliance

Attention Merchants: Avoiding Fraud on Returns

Key items for eCommerce retailers to watch out for with fraudulent transactions

Retailers online and in-store saw $428 billion in merchandise returns in 2020, with 5.9% or $25.3 billion of that amount accounting for fraudulent transactions, according to a report by the National Retail Federation. Returns in 2020 nearly doubled from 2019. Making retailers in eCommerce and stores even more aware of the inconvenience and opportunities that come with these transactions.

Referenced or unreferenced refunds

You’re probably familiar with the two types of transactions when it comes to returns; referenced and unreferenced refunds. A referenced refund allows a merchant to locate the previous credit card transaction and match it with the refund to that card.  When an unreferenced refund occurs, the merchant does not locate the original transaction and refunds the amount to a different card from the original transaction. Usually, this requires the merchant to do a manual reconciliation.

Making customer returns easy

PayTrace maintains compliance with PCI standards to protect cardholder information and has recently updated referenced refund notifications on our Virtual Terminal and API. This security update helps protect merchants from fraud and simplifies the return process for consumers when necessary. For example, merchants are notified if a return exceeds the original amount of a previously settled transaction. This update helps merchants avoid return fraud, and save time by effectively reconciling customer returns. 

An opportunity to reverse a return 

A returned item need not be a lost sale. Consider using returns to build relationships with customers. Asking questions during the return transaction can help build trust and a deeper understanding of customer needs. Savvy merchants know this is an opportunity to engage customers, to promote other products and services.  

Merchants using PayTrace appreciate secure processing features and robust reporting capabilities that provide a comprehensive history of customer transactions.

If you’d like to learn more about processing customer returns that can also protect you and your customers from potential fraud, contact our 5-star customer support team. Reach out to our Spokane, WA team by calling (888) 806-6545 or emailing

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