It’s an awkward situation when you have to inform a customer their card has been declined. The customer will usually insist it must be some mistake on your end, but after several attempts at trying, you have to tell them you believe their card is the problem.


Address Verification System (AVS) is a fraud-prevention measure implemented on card-not-present transactions like e-commerce and phone orders. AVS works by entering the cardholders billing address and zip code during the transaction. When a transaction gets declined due to an AVS mismatch it can be particularly tricky.


Here are a few scenarios that trigger an AVS decline and how to rectify them.


AVS Mismatch No. 1: A customer is making a purchase, but there’s an AVS mismatch between the address or ZIP code. The transaction is declined in your payment gateway, but the customer notices the purchase in his pending transactions. The business owner believes the transaction didn’t go through, but the customer’s bank says it did.


Important to note: While the issuing banks benefit from fraud-prevention measures like AVS, they’ll still approve transactions even when AVS mismatches occur. It is the business owner himself that sets the settings to decline transactions based on AVS mismatch.


In essence, the transaction is approved by the issuing bank but is declined by the business owners payment system.


Businesses have three options in this scenario:

  1. Try again in case information was entered incorrectly.
  2. Override the system to approve the transaction.
  3. Cancel the transaction.


It’s best to cancel the transaction if you don’t know the customer to avoid a potentially fraudulent transaction. If you know and trust the customer, you’re welcome to override the system, but doing so will incur a higher transaction rate that accounts for risk. If you rerun the transaction and it continues to fail, it will create more pending transactions on the customer’s credit card statement and more declines on your end, simply exacerbating the problem (though the mixup will be resolved when you settle the day’s transactions. Once settled, the pending charges usually clear within 24 hours.)



AVS Mismatch No. 2: A customer provides a true billing address, but an AVS decline occurs. The cardholder swears the information was updated with the issuing bank, but there are two reasons the bank records still might not match the address provided.


  1. P.O. Boxes

If the customer provides a P.O. Box, a mismatch can occur if the bank does not commit to the same recording practices as the Merchant Account Provider. It’s considered a best practice to truncate the “P.O. Box” and simply verify the numbers provided. But not all banks do that, which results in mismatches of “123” and “POB,” for instance.

The cardholder can resolve this problem by calling the issuing bank and informing it that the P.O. Box is entered incorrectly for verification purposes.


  1. Mailing Address Update

Updating your mailing address is top of mind after a move, but that’s not enough to avoid an AVS decline. Updating a mailing address will ensure credit card statements reach the new home, but that’s it; the billing information for the card isn’t automatically changed.


The cardholder simply needs to contact the card’s issuing bank, request an update to the billing address and move forward with the payment.


In summation, here’s a quick cheat sheet for dealing with AVS declines on the fly:


If you know the customer, reduce the hassle and continue with the payment.

If you don’t know the customer, consider retrying if you potentially entered the information incorrectly over the phone. For e-commerce transactions, consider canceling the transaction entirely to prevent fraud.


Explain to the customer that the transaction isn’t actually approved, despite what the bank might be saying.


If a customer swears up and down that the information is correct, inform the customer of the P.O. Box issue if applicable. If that isn’t the issue, ask whether the customer recently updated the billing address.


Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling!


AVS Mismatch Woes

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Picture this:


It’s 5:58pm.


You’re the owner of an upscale Men’s Clothing retail store.


It’s your daughters birthday and you promised her you’d be home on time for her party. You’re shutting down the registers and preparing to leave.


Store closes at 6:00pm.


It’s now 5:59pm and the door swings open. In walks a distinguished looking man who slowly begins to browse the suits on the racks.


Under any other circumstances you would surely stay the extra time to service a customer and hopefully make a sale. However the idea of disappointing your cherubic little girl (not to mention the image of your wife’s scowling face) have you clearing your throat:


“Eh Ahem, I’m sorry Sir, but we are closed. Please come back tomorrow anytime between 9am and 6pm and I would be happy to help you find the perfect suit.”


The distinguished looking man has either not heard you or is doing a great job pretending to be deaf. So you raise your voice and say it a bit louder this time.




You walk over to the man and tap him on the shoulder and tell him very clearly that the store is now closed and he must leave now.


The man insists that he must buy a suit NOW.


You wait a few more minutes.


It’s now 6:17pm and the distinguished man is still taking his time browsing the racks. You warn the straggler (not looking so distinguished anymore) that if he doesn’t leave the store immediately you will be forced to call the Police.


This clearly does not faze him. Having no choice you dial 911.


Police arrive just as the gentlemen is heading towards the the dressing room. You explain the situation and the Police advise the man that he must leave the premises immediately.


He ignores them too insisting he needs to buy a suit NOW.


They physically grab him by the arms to escort him out of the store. The man resists and things quickly turn ugly…


Bystanders stop to watch the scene and the flash of smartphones can be seen from every angle. Video of the scene has been captured for eternity.







This can happen to any one of us and can play itself out in multiple scenarios.


Use of force has its place.


However, in my humble opinion, to sum it up in one very short sentence, using force to achieve compliance is rarely a good idea.


There is always a better way.


Happy Tuesday & Selling!


With United We Stand?

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Being in the credit card processing industry for many years, I’ve encountered many scam artists trying to extract cash or free products from business owners. Most of these scammers are from Nigeria and Indonesia, where credit card fraud is considered a sport, much like soccer, only the participants get paid better.


I would like to bring to light an old scam that has been around for decades but unfortunately recently targeted a dear friend of mine.


This scam has plagued the glass industry, vinyl dealers, print shops, wholesalers, and even ice cream truck suppliers.
I don’t want to belabor the point – I have blogged and reported on these scams previously. The best way, and seemingly the only way, to beat a scam is to stop it before it happens. Know their tactics. Know the red flags.


A couple of weeks ago, my friend – who we will call Charles for the purpose of this email – was contacted by a Swedish customer who called himself Sam Moore and used the email address ( Sam wanted to buy a large quantity of very specific products. He explained that these products were not available in Sweden and he was glad to find a US company that sells them.


Being cautious (yet excited about this unusual large order), Charles advised Sam that he would need full payment upfront before he can put together the order. He waited until Sam gave his credit card number, along with his billing and shipping info and credit card security code, and when the transaction had gone through successfully, he started preparing the order to ship.


All seemed fine until the Sam told him that instead of using FedEx or UPS, he wanted him to use his preferred shipping company, Crystal Time Freight Ltd. Sam gave Charles the email address for Crystal Time Freight Ltd. and Charles promptly sent off for a quote. The amount was around the same that FedEx charges which seemed fair. Charles then got an email from the shipping company stating that they only accept bank wire or Western Union payments.


Charles tried to find out some information about Crystal Time Freight Ltd. on the web, and found Crystal Freight System, based in Lahore, Pakistan, Crystal Freight Services, based in Singapore, Crystal International, based in California, and Crystal Logistical Services, Ltd., based in London. These are all legitimate shipping companies, but according to the Sam, they were different companies, and not “his” Crystal Freight.


Sadly, Charles wired $2500 to Crystal Time Freight Ltd. and waited for the order to be picked up. No one ever picked up the order and within a few days the credit card transaction he had originally processed – was disputed.


Here’s how it works: Business owner gets paid with a stolen credit card, completes the order and packages up the order. In the meantime, business owner contacts Fake Shipping Company, who is really just the scammer using a different email, and is told to make payment via Wire or Western Union. Business Owner wires away his cash, never to see it again, and emails the scammer the confirmation number along with shipping details. The goods then sit, packaged up, ready to go, but no one ever comes to pick them up. Then, credit card is charged back. Suddenly business owner is out the money for shipping, plus a $25.00 charge-back fee, in addition to the time and cost of producing the products which now has no buyer.



The Red Flags


  • Email orders with numerous typos and grammatical problems
  • Orders for large quantities product
  • Orders that require long-distance shipping
  • If you’re not advertising on google and yet a customer thousands of miles away located your small business
  • Orders that request use of a shipping company chosen only by the customer
  • Orders from a Gmail, Yahoo or other free email account
  • Email orders with an overseas timestamp (often the timestamp doesn’t match the stated location of the purchaser)
  • Quotes for freight do not include a phone number


Hopefully by spreading awareness of this scam we can help others avoid falling victim to it.


Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling!


Fake Shipping Scam. A Short Story…

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First of all, to all those who came out last week to the LCSC Networking Event to hear my “Sales & Psychology” presentation – thank you! It was great to see familiar faces and to meet many new ones. I hope the topics we covered can help you be even more successful!


The other day I was at an event and was seated next to an Accountant whom I have known for many years. He turns to me and asks me “How is the Loan Shark business doing?” He was referring to a mutual client who recently received a Cash Advance from our company for $250,000.


For those not yet familiar, a Cash Advance is an alternative type of business loan where a business will receive upfront cash in exchange for a percentage or a portion of future credit card sales. The Cash Advance concept and industry has not earned the greatest reputation mainly due the high percentage fees that the business will have to pay over the course of the loan. Hence the snide comment from my seatmate…


For those who have attempted to obtain any type of funding from a bank, and got nowhere, you are not alone. With interest rates at record lows and the economy a lot stronger, the demand for business loans is at an all-time high. Yet banks remain tight-fisted and choosy with approving small business loans.


After personally witnessing many of our clients go for the Cash Advance option, lured by the “instant approval” and “fast funding” promise, only to be dragged around for weeks and then raked over the coals with fees, we decided to create our own in-house Cash Advance Program.


The Banquest Cash Advance


The Banquest Cash Advance program is unique in many ways.


We pooled together a group of private investors who fund our clients.


We only fund our own clients who we know and have a relationship with. This reduces risk and in turn allows us to offer much lower rates.


Our long term success is based on our clients success. Unlike traditional Cash Advance companies, our goal is to help our clients become profitable and be able to grow their business. That is why we are the only Cash Advance that allows for an early payback discount. We would much rather see our clients free themselves of all debt.


Everyone agrees that a Cash Advance is not the first choice of capital for any business, however if there are no better options a Cash Advance can be a lifesaver for a business going through a cash crunch.


If your business can benefit from a Cash Advance or if you are an investor interested in funding some of our opportunities, feel free to email us at


Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling!


Bank Loan or Loan Shark?

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