As an online merchant, you may have experienced the frustration of a declined transaction. But what happens when a transaction is declined, and it shouldn’t have been? This is known as a false decline, and it can be a nightmare for merchants.

In this article, we’ll dive into the world of false declines, what they are, why they happen, and how you can prevent them from impacting your business.

What Are False Declines?

False declines, also known as false negatives, occur when a legitimate transaction is mistakenly rejected by a merchant’s fraud detection system. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as outdated fraud detection technology, incorrect data, or human error.

False declines are a common issue for online merchants, with some studies estimating that they account for up to 20% of all declined transactions. This means that for every five transactions that are declined, one of them may be a false decline.

The Impact of False Declines

Declined transaction

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False declines can have a significant impact on a merchant’s business. Not only do they result in lost sales, but they can also damage a merchant’s reputation and customer relationships.

When a legitimate transaction is declined, the customer may become frustrated and choose to take their business elsewhere. This can lead to a loss of revenue and potential long-term customers.

Additionally, false declines can damage a merchant’s reputation. If a customer experiences multiple false declines from the same merchant, they may begin to question the merchant’s reliability and security, leading to a loss of trust and potential customers.

Why Do False Declines Happen?

There are several reasons why false declines occur. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common causes.

Outdated Fraud Detection Technology

One of the main reasons for false declines is outdated fraud detection technology. As fraudsters become more sophisticated, fraud detection systems must also evolve to keep up with new tactics and techniques.

If a merchant is using outdated fraud detection technology, it may not be able to accurately identify and flag fraudulent transactions, leading to false declines.

Incorrect Data

Fraud detection technology

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Another common cause of false declines is incorrect data. This can happen when a customer enters their information incorrectly, such as mistyping their address or phone number.

If this incorrect data is flagged by a merchant’s fraud detection system, it may result in a false decline. This is why it’s essential for merchants to regularly review and update their fraud detection rules and parameters to ensure they are accurate and up-to-date.

Human Error

Human error is another factor that can contribute to false declines. This can happen when a merchant’s fraud detection team manually reviews transactions and makes a mistake, or when a customer service representative incorrectly enters information.

To minimize the risk of human error, merchants should invest in automated fraud detection systems that can accurately and efficiently review transactions.

How Can Merchants Prevent False Declines?

Now that we understand the impact and causes of false declines, let’s explore some strategies that merchants can use to prevent them from happening.

Invest in Up-to-Date Fraud Detection Technology

Fraud detection team

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As mentioned earlier, outdated fraud detection technology is a significant contributor to false declines. To prevent this, merchants should invest in up-to-date fraud detection technology that can accurately identify and flag fraudulent transactions.

This may include implementing machine learning and artificial intelligence technology, which can continuously learn and adapt to new fraud tactics and patterns.

Regularly Review and Update Fraud Detection Rules

To ensure that fraud detection technology is accurately identifying fraudulent transactions, merchants should regularly review and update their fraud detection rules and parameters.

This can involve analyzing transaction data and adjusting rules to reflect current fraud trends and patterns. By regularly reviewing and updating fraud detection rules, merchants can minimize the risk of false declines.

Utilize Automated Fraud Detection Systems

As mentioned earlier, human error can contribute to false declines. To minimize this risk, merchants should invest in automated fraud detection systems that can efficiently and accurately review transactions.

These systems can also provide real-time alerts and notifications for suspicious transactions, allowing merchants to take immediate action and prevent false declines.

Real-World Examples of False Declines

Let’s take a look at some real-world examples of false declines and the impact they can have on merchants.

Example 1: A False Decline Leads to Lost Sales

A customer is attempting to make a purchase on an online retail website. However, their transaction is declined due to a false decline. The customer becomes frustrated and decides to take their business elsewhere, resulting in a lost sale for the merchant.

Example 2: Multiple False Declines Damage Reputation

A customer has made several purchases from an online merchant, but each time their transaction is declined due to a false decline. The customer becomes frustrated and begins to question the merchant’s reliability and security, damaging their reputation and potentially leading to a loss of trust and future customers.

Who Is Responsible for Preventing False Declines?

Automated fraud detection system

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Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the merchant to prevent false declines. This includes investing in up-to-date fraud detection technology, regularly reviewing and updating fraud detection rules, and utilizing automated fraud detection systems.

However, payment processors and card networks also play a role in preventing false declines. They can provide merchants with fraud detection tools and resources, as well as monitor and analyze transaction data to identify potential false declines.

Takeaways

False declines can have a significant impact on a merchant’s business, resulting in lost sales, damaged reputation, and lost trust from customers. By investing in up-to-date fraud detection technology, regularly reviewing and updating fraud detection rules, and utilizing automated fraud detection systems, merchants can minimize the risk of false declines and protect their business.

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