November 21, 2011

Voice Auth Refresher

Criminals are often smarter than we give them credit for. They know that at busy times of the day and during the busier times of the year, clerks are more distracted and it is therefore easier for them to get away with their illegal activities.

That is why now, as the holiday season rapidly approaches, is a good time to remind your front-line staff of proper security protocols and policies. One particular area you might be well served to review is what to do when a voice authorization is requested.

While there are many reasons processors return “voice auth required” messages to merchants, the majority of them relate to suspected fraud. When calling for a voice authorization, merchants may be asked to have the cardholder verify the billing address or other account information as a two-factor authentication that they are the rightful owner of the card. In return (once the processor is satisfied that the transaction is legitimate) an authorization number will be given to the merchant.

Crooks know that during peak shopping times some cashiers – just wanting to keep lines moving and customers happy – can be tempted to input a false authorization number rather than actually take time to call and receive a valid authorization code. By entering a false authorization code, they may not only be cheating the store out of receiving payment, but may also cause entire batches of transactions to fail to process (which will result in delayed funding for all the transactions submitted in the affected batch).

If you, or one of your employees, receive a “voice auth required” notice, take the time to call the number provided. Give them the card number and purchase amount, and note the valid auth code they provide you with. Alternatively, if you don’t want to take the time for a phone call, you could always ask for another form of payment.

Yes, these options mean it may take a few more seconds to complete the transaction – but it’s well worth it to avoid fraud, fines, and frustration.