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Friendly fraud, also known as friendly fraud chargeback occurs when a consumer makes an Internet purchase with their own credit card and then issues a chargeback through the card provider after receiving the goods or services, to cancel the transaction and refund the money. When a chargeback occurs, the merchant will always be held responsible, regardless of what they did to verify the transaction. The challenge with friendly fraud is that there is no way to verify the authenticity of the transaction, which is in fact legitimate, because the consumer is the one that is not legitimate.
Friendly fraud is a very real problem to businesses and merchants, and LexisNexis reported that merchants are paying $2.33 for every $1 lost in fraudulent transactions.
Friendly fraud has been widespread on the internet, affecting both the sale of physical products and digital transactions. To combat digital transaction fraud, prepaid cards have been offered as an effective alternative to ensure customer payment. South Korean software developers such as Nexon implemented a prepaid system in 2007 to combat friendly fraud, selling prepaid cards in stores such as Target.
MasterCard was sued in 2003 by an internet vendor for having credit card policies and fees that have made internet vendors especially vulnerable targets of friendly fraud. Internet vendors typically have to pay much of the losses when a fraudulent transaction like friendly fraud occurs.
Physical products 
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The online merchant that sells physical products can protect itself by requiring a signature upon delivery of goods. That signature, in addition to information gathered online, helps in the resolution of chargeback disputes. Also, the merchant can request the Card Security Code on the credit card to fight "Card absent environment" chargebacks. These are the three digit codes on the backs of Visa, Mastercard, and Discover cards, and the four digit code on the front of American Express cards.
Digital transactions 
Friendly fraud thrives in the digital products market where it is much easier for fraudsters to succeed. Common targets include pornography and gambling websites. Attempts by the merchant to prove that the consumer received the purchased goods or services are difficult. Again, the use of card security codes can show that the cardholder was present, but does not prove that delivery was made. Proof of delivery is often difficult, and the cardholder gets the product without paying for it.
One method of combating friendly fraud is to create a feature in the product that checks in with the merchant's database. If a chargeback is issued, the merchant can tell the product to suspend service. This tactic will also work for digital subscription services, or any other online product that requires updates or logins. Unfortunately, however, the merchant will usually still be charged a fee for incurring a chargeback, so this is not a complete solution.
Call center transactions 
Another common channel for chargebacks is Mail Order/Telephone Order (MOTO) payment processing through a call center. In this case, as with the two others listed here, the main problem is that this is a card not present transaction. To help eliminate call center purchase chargebacks, call centers are working to make the purchases more like "card present" purchases.
When consumers walk into a store and buy something, they typically swipe their credit cards, confirm the purchase amount, enter a secret code (or sign their name) and leave with the merchandise. This is a "card is present" purchase and fraudulent chargebacks in these situations are almost non-existent.
Agent-assisted automation technology is available for call centers that allows customers to enter their credit card information, including the card security code directly into the Customer Relationship Management software without the agent ever seeing or hearing it. The agent remains on the phone, so there is no awkward transfer to an Interactive Voice Response system. All the agent can hear is monotones. This is the "card present" equivalent of "swiping" the card.
Before the purchase is submitted by the agent, the purchase amount is played back to the consumer along with the last four digits of the card. The consumer is asked to confirm their purchase by providing a verbal signature, which is recorded.
Finally, an email is sent to the consumer with the purchase information and an attached audio file of their verbal signature.
By more closely mimicking the "card present" process, MOTO merchants have been able to reduce the incidence of chargebacks. Moreover, this process has resulted in merchants being able to consistently overturn fraudulent chargebacks that are attempted.
- Poole, Riley (January 5, 2008). "Understanding Friendly Fraud". Merchant Talk.
- "Friendly Fraud - A Very Real Problem". Friendly Fraud Prevent. February 7, 2012.
- Sheffield, Brandon (September 7, 2007). "Nexon's Min Kim On The Power Of Microtransactions". Gamasutra.
- Bayot, Jennifer (May 13, 2003). "Company Sues MasterCard Over Fees for Online Sales". New York Times.
- Ritchtell, Matt; John Schwartz (November 18, 2002). "Credit Cards Seek New Fees on Web's Demimonde". New York Times.
- Adsit, Dennis (May, 2011). "Small Daily Security Breaches Worse than Large High-Profile Ones". cardnotpresent.com.