So I’ve been scammed. Sorta. Cheated, stole from, hustled. However you want to say it. It feels like shit.
Have you ever gotten a charge on your credit card statement that you know you didn’t make? I have, several times. After freaking out and being infuriated that you’ve been scammed, you calm down and then call the credit card company and get it removed, right?
You see the name on the statement and assumed it was them who has scammed you. Well this morning I found out that is not always the case.
As a small business owner, every morning I check my website to make sure everything is working and to see if I have any art orders to be filled. Since earlier this year, my website has been targeted by bots for some reason. They flood my page with fake orders. Up until today, I had no clue as to why this was being done because every single order has ended with a failed order… stopped in its tracks by the credit card company. That is until September 20th.
Well today I found out why. I got a charge-back notice from my credit card banking service (PayPal powered by Braintree). Apparently, thieves are using stolen credit card numbers, most don’t go through, and they keep trying to purchase things until they get lucky and one does go through. I was the (un)lucky recipient of that transaction September 20th.
The innocent person who had her credit card information stolen found a false charge on her statement and called her credit card company to have it removed, as we all would. Evidently, that is the charge that went through on my website. Of course I’m not scamming her, the thief is. However, it shows up on her statement as though it’s me. 😐
You would think all is good, right? She gets her money back? Well she does, but I’m stuck with the charge-back plus a $15 fee from PayPal AND I’m out the artwork that would be sent to the address used plus shipping. It’s like insult added to injury.
I finally understand how this all comes together for the thieves. All the while, she’s thinking it’s me that is the scammer. Or at least that’s what I would think had I saw the charge on my statement.
So I’m writing this in the off chance she looks me up and wonders who I am and hopefully she will see that it’s not me that scammed her. It was I that ultimately got scammed. You see, as a merchant I’m not protected at all through Braintree. Good news if you’re a customer that’s been scammed. Bad news if you’re the innocent merchant that was targeted by the thief.
This particular case was small, thank God. But if you look at the amount of failed orders I have on my website, it’s frightening to think that I could be held responsible to pay back charge-backs and fees per transaction when I never received any money to actually pay back or even received for my art.
According to my PayPal powered by Braintree, this year I’ve had over 16,000 hits on trying to charge. 16,000!!! OMG. This could ruin anyone if those charges had gone through. So I’m praying, crossing my fingers, dancing around a fire and anything else I can do in hopes nothing else goes through.
You may still be wondering aren’t I, the merchant, protected from fraud like this? The simple answer is no. The merchant (me) is held responsible even though we had absolutely nothing to do with it other than being another victim. The bank services lady I spoke with on the phone was sympathetic but that doesn’t change a thing. There is no recourse. I can try to fight it, but even with proof I’ve been the victim of the bots it still ends up with me having to pay she said.
I’ve since upped the protection on my website, which in turn makes it more difficult to purchase something if you are a real and honest customer. So when you go to a site to buy something, especially a small business like mine, please be patient with the frustrating hoops you have to jump through in order to buy.
I’ve gotten a Re-Captcha plug-in operating now, which is where you have to prove you’re not a robot and type in that weird sequence of numbers and letters or sometimes it’s pick out the bicycles from the graph. Also, I’ve made it to where you have to register with my website in order to purchase.
Yes, it’s a hassle for my customers and collectors, I’m sorry. I realize it’s a hassle and that’s why I didn’t have them implemented before. I’ve had the fear of someone not having the patience to do all of this and end up losing a sale. But now I see I have to use them now.
So please, I’m asking you again. Please give us small businesses a break when it comes to buying from us especially online. We’re trying to make things easy for you to buy from us, but the thieves and scammers are making it ever harder for us. It’s hard enough to keep a small business afloat this year without this crap. I will however continue to sell online, it’s not scaring me away just yet.
If you know a small biz like myself who sells online, please share this with them so we can try to help others before they get scammed like I’ve been. I’d like to be able to help as many small business owners as I can.
I thank you for your business and for your continued support.
UPDATE: I have since ditched PayPal powered by Braintree. They just don’t have enough security in my opinion and not protecting the merchant is a big downside, huge. I’ll still offer a PayPal option, but now I use Stripe as my payment gateway. So far, the security is much better.
Learn more about me on the ‘About’ page under the additional links menu. I’m an artist – a painter mostly and an avid gardener. I paint a variety of subjects including birds, koi fish, my gardens, ponds and flowers as well as anything having to do with nature especially trees and tropical scenes. I also enjoy painting abstracts and have started created more and more of them. My most favorite thing to try to achieve in my painting is is mystery and telling mystical stories.
If you would like to keep up with what I’m doing, I have a newsletter e-mailed about once a month that gives you special status for invitations, birthday greeting and more. I’d love for you to add your email to my Friends and Collectors list!