Fraud recognition and prevention tips

We encourage all of our booksellers to be informed of the potential risks that exist in the world of Internet commerce. To continue to reduce the risk of fraudulent orders for all of our booksellers, we have created this page to provide booksellers with information on how to recognize and take action on possible fraudulent orders.

Indicators of fraud:

Although the majority of our buyers are undoubtedly honest and responsible individuals, the occasional order may turn up fraudulent. We advise booksellers to carefully review all orders before processing, particularly those that display the following traits:

  • Orders from African and former Eastern Block countries
  • Orders placed by buyers with free e-mail accounts (such as hotmail, yahoo, etc) or suspicious e-mail addresses
  • Large volume of orders
  • Expensive orders
  • Large volume orders for "hot ticket items"
  • Buyer's contact information, including name and phone number do not seem to correlate with the client's geographic location (i.e. Henry Smith, Nigeria)
  • Invalid shipping address (i.e. Nigeria, Denmark)
  • Invalid contact information

Please review the rest of this page as well as the Current Issues page for further details regarding verifying the legitimacy of buyers. The above indicators alone do not confirm that a client is fraudulent.

What you can do:

Check Shipping addresses:
Does the zip code/postal code match up with the billing address? The post office of the jurisdiction you are sending to often has a list of zip codes or postal codes. See:

  • USPS:;
  • Canada Post:
  • Royal Mail (United Kingdom):
  • La Poste (France):
  • Deutsche Post (Germany):

If you are not familiar with the name of the city, check that the city name exists in the country. Additionally, unless it's a gift purchase, the shipping address and billing address (if provided by the buyer in "Special Instructions") will be identical. Some fraudulent buyers will use obviously fake shipping addresses. Please take the time to check that the address is valid.

Another way to check the validity of the buyer's address is to research the phone number (if provided) with the address. To do so, you may find the following links helpful:


Verify Credit Cards
Many fraudulent purchases are made with stolen credit cards. If you accept payment by credit cards, here are some things you can do to check the validity of the card:

  • Contact your credit card service provider to verify that the card is valid and has not been reported as lost or stolen.
  • Credit card companies offer information and various service packages to assist merchants with fraud prevention and security. Check with your financial institution for more information.
  • Some credit cards contain a security code imprinted on the back to determine the cardholder has the card. You may contact the buyer to ask for the Credit Card verification number.
  • If you are accepting credit card payment, don't ship the book until after the charge has been verified.
  • Check that the name on the credit card provided is the same as the person who placed the order. If it is not, you can contact the buyer using the e-mail address displayed on the right-hand side of the order screen before you confirm availability of the item.

Track or Insure Your Packages
Insuring or tracking your shipments will protect you against buyers who falsely claim their books have not arrived. Some booksellers consider it a small price to pay compared to the value of the potential loss. You may also have to contact the buyer to request additional charges to cover the cost of insurance. Many people committing fraud will not reply to the e-mail.

Expensive Orders
If you receive an order for an expensive book, you can contact the buyer using the e-mail address displayed on the right-hand side of the order screen before you confirm availability of the item. Personal contact with the buyer also gives you the opportunity to make arrangements for special shipping and handling procedures. Again, if a buyer not responding to your queries may be indicative of a fraudulent purchase.

Notify AbeBooks Customer Support
If you believe you have received a fraudulent order, please send the details to AbeBooks Customer Support. The AbeBooks Security and Trust team will investigate the issue and put steps in place to prevent future fraudulent incidents. Booksellers are financially responsible for the outcome of the order if they processed payment themselves.

To assist us with our investigation, please be sure to include:

  • The AbeBooks purchase order number
  • A description of the problem. (Why you think the client and order is fraudulent? For example, the credit card name doesn’t match the name of the person placing the order; the shipping address doesn’t match the billing address.)
  • The steps you have taken to investigate the order. (Have you verified the address/phone number and if so, how? Have you attempted to contact the buyer by e-mail or phone? Did they respond to you? If so, what did they say? How did you verify the credit card number?)
  • Any relevant correspondence including faxes or e-mails that contain important details

Process a Refund for your Commissions

If you have received a fraudulent order, you can process a refund for the commissions using the Returns process.

To request a return or refund:

  1. Click [sign on] and enter your E-mail Address and Password.
  2. Click [Process Your Orders] from the Quick Links menu.
  3. When the Order List appears, locate the order by either AbeBooks purchase order number or BNBQ order number (beginning "510" for BNBQ returns).
  4. Click [List Orders].
  5. Click [Request a return/refund].
  6. Select the return reason [Incomplete Sale].  
  7. Click the [Initiate Return] button.
  8. Click the [Confirm] button to confirm that the details of the return are correct.

Because the return reason is “Incomplete Sale,” no action is required on part of the buyer. An e-mail will be sent to the buyer including any comments you have entered.


Other Resources

If you are unsure that a location is valid, you can use Encarta's Maps Center to confirm a client's geographic location.

Sometimes, fraudulent buyers will use invalid e-mail addresses when they place their orders. You can use InterNIC to check the validity of a buyer's e-mail address by verifying that the domain they are using is active.

Again, please be aware that this information alone does not confirm that a buyer is fraudulent!


Protecting your account, personal information and computer

  • Ensure you are using updated virus software
  • Remember to sign off of your account if you are using a public computer
  • Monitor your credit card account on a regular basis
  • Monitor your AbeBooks account on a regular basis especially if you are using your account to also place orders
  • AbeBooks does not solicit credit card information via e-mail
  • AbeBooks does not send attachments via e-mail.
  • Choose your passwords carefully. Review “Beyond the Password” for further information.


Disclaimer: The information on this page is for advisory purposes only and does not constitute instructions or directives. Booksellers are ultimately responsible for protecting themselves and their business from fraudulent practices. AbeBooks does not guarantee the information contained in this page will prevent or shield booksellers from fraud.