An increasing number of companies are seeking professional help to combat address fraud, according to Data Ireland.
The company — wholly owned by An Post — says that Ireland’s “tricky” address system is part of the problem.
Data Ireland account executive, Morgan Nolan, said “big ticket” items were being purchased using a fake address.
The legitimate delivery person, who cannot find the address, calls the buyer, and an arrangement is made to meet and hand over the goods.
The fraudster then pretends they never received the goods and asks for a charge-back on their credit card from the issuing bank.
The merchant is accountable, regardless of the measures they took to verify the transaction.
Mr Nolan said the problem was getting bigger with more people shopping online, and needed to be addressed.
The last consumer scoreboard published by the European Commission shows that 45% of consumers were making purchases online in 2012, compared to 20% in 2004.
Data Ireland says €20m was lost to fraud on Irish credit and debit cards in 2012.
In almost eight out of 10 (79%) cases criminals obtained genuine card numbers and used them to purchase goods over the internet, by mail order or over the phone.
Mr Nolan said address verification software allowed merchants to spot the fraud before it was too late and in a way that did not affect valid customers.
Apart from the fraud issue, however, the way the address system works was proving a nightmare for some companies.
“Ireland doesn’t have unique addresses. More than 30% are not unique,” Mr Nolan explained.
There were multiple versions of the same address, as well as Irish language versions.
Companies needed to be able to rely on a quality address system, not only to combat fraud, but to get customer feedback and comply with regulations.
Mr Nolan said that the introduction of a national post code system planned for next year would make it easier for addresses to be checked at the point of purchase.
Individual addresses will be assigned their own seven-digit post code — an Eircode, that will identify them from all others in the State.
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