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Completing mail and telephone orders

Note You cannot accept Card Not Present transactions unless your credit card processor has agreed to process these for you and such provision is contained in your merchant agreement.

It is often convenient for both you and your customers to complete a credit card order by phone or mail rather than at your business’ physical location. However, there are precautions you should take to guard against data compromise when handling these “card not present” transactions. Since a visual identification cannot be made for cardholders requesting mail or phone transactions, some personal information must be obtained to receive authorization from your credit card processor.

Two security tools are available to assist you in the detection and prevention of fraudulent activity – verification of cardholder billing address (AVS) and authentication that the customer has the card in their possession (CVV2/CVC2/CID).

Address Verification Service (AVS) is an automated program that allows a merchant to check a cardholder’s billing address, as part of the electronic authorization process. Fraudsters often do not know the correct billing address for the cards they are using, thereby yielding a clue that the transaction may not be valid.

Card authentication is a three-digit code number imprinted on the signature panel of cards to help authenticate that the customer has a genuine card in their possession.

Follow the instructions below when completing mail and telephone orders: 

  1. Obtain the cardholder’s name, card account number and expiration date and record these on your sales draft. You must also obtain the cardholder’s billing address and zip code. (You may need to provide this information when you request authorization.)
  2. Request the three-digit card authentication number (CVV2/CVC2/CID) from the signature panel (or the four-digit number if approved for American Express CID participation) Note: Merchant retention of this authentication number is strictly prohibited. However, you may record and retain the one-character result code.
  3. Fill in a brief description of the goods sold and show the amount of the sale in the space marked “Total.”
  4. Write TO (telephone order) or MO (mail order) on the signature line of the sales draft.
  5. Enter transaction information into terminal or PC. Refer to your processor’s reference guide for instructions on manually entering sales transactions. 

  6. Provide a copy of the sales draft to the cardholder, either with the cardholder order (if being shipped to the cardholder) or separately (i.e., if purchase is a gift). The transaction date is the date goods were shipped to the cardholder. Electronically printed sales receipts provided to the cardholder should truncate or mask the account number and the expiration date.

An authorization for a phone order, mail order, fax, or Internet transaction does not guarantee against chargebacks. Please ship only to the address verified as the cardholder’s. Shipment to a different address jeopardizes your protection from chargebacks. You may verify the billing address of the cardholder with the Authorization Center or the cardholder's bank.

If you have any questions about completing mail and telephone orders, please call the Council’s card processing experts Michele Coons or Nicholl Bautochka at (800) 442-3589.