Friendly Fraud: When Customers Unknowingly Become Cybercriminals

Chargebacks have become a common occurrence for businesses in recent years. They are initiated when a customer disputes a charge made to their credit card and their bank forcibly refunds the money directly to the cardholder. However, not all chargebacks are legitimate, and while there are many reasons for this, one of the most alarming is friendly fraud. In this blog post, we’ll dive into what friendly fraud is, the impact it has on businesses, and how to protect your business from the unintended chargeback.

Friendly fraud, also known as chargeback fraud or first-party fraud, occurs when a customer purchases a product or service, receives it, then disputes the charge with their bank, resulting in a chargeback. Unlike traditional fraud, friendly fraud is usually committed unintentionally, typically due to the misunderstanding of the chargeback process. Common reasons for friendly fraud include simple forgetfulness, fear of confrontation, and disputes over easily resolvable issues.

Friendly fraud can have a significant impact on businesses, especially small ones with limited resources to handle chargebacks. Not only do these chargebacks reduce revenue and increase administrative expenses, but they also negatively impact a business’s reputation. High chargeback rates can also cause payment processors to withhold funds, which can result in cash flow problems for small businesses.

The first step for businesses to protect themselves from friendly fraud is to have a clear and concise refund policy. This policy should be easily visible on the business’s website or within the product/service purchase process, including any stipulations about refunds. Businesses should also keep meticulous records of all transactions, including any communication with the customer. These records can be used as evidence in the case of a chargeback dispute.

Another critical way to protect your business from friendly fraud is by providing excellent customer support. Sometimes customers may not realize that they are initiating a chargeback and are merely looking for a quick resolution to their problem. By providing rapid and attentive customer support, you may be able to prevent a chargeback entirely.

Businesses should also consider implementing fraud-detection tools, such as machine learning and behavioral analytics. These tools can identify any red flags in transactions, such as frequent chargebacks, high-risk IP addresses, and past fraud incidents. However, it’s essential to note that fraud-detection software should never be the sole solution to prevent friendly fraud and should only be used in conjunction with other fraud protection measures.

Lastly, businesses can rely on the chargeback representment process. Chargeback representment is the process of disputing a chargeback, providing evidence of the validity of the transaction, and potentially getting the dispute reversed. This process can be complex and time-consuming, but it’s critical to take action when necessary.


Friendly fraud is an unfortunate reality for many businesses, causing significant financial losses and damaging reputations. It’s critical for businesses to take proactive steps to protect themselves from friendly fraud, such as implementing robust refund policies, providing attentive customer support, utilizing fraud-detection tools, and being proactive in the chargeback representment process.

By following these steps, businesses can minimize the impact of friendly fraud and keep their finances secure. Remember, prevention is always the best course of action for any type of fraud, including chargebacks initiated unintentionally by customers. By staying informed and prepared, businesses can protect themselves and their customers, ensuring everyone leaves happy and satisfied with their experience.

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