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I am having a problem buying something because the vendor is claiming that the "billing address given on the order does not match the address for the card".

I don't understand this. First of all, I don't see how a vendor would have any knowledge whatsoever of what address is associated with a credit card, because that is private information. Secondly, many charges I make, even very large ones, never involve any address information at all. So, how can this one vendor (Garmin) be claiming some kind of "address mismatch". Why is an address even involved at all?

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    Does this answer your question? In what countries can credit card merchants use address verification? . The title doesn't match yours, but the body and the answers might be helpful.
    – shoover
    Jan 13, 2023 at 22:37
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    If your intended shipping address is different to the billing address, or if you want to have multiple shipping addresses, then be clear with them about that, and see what they can handle.
    – smci
    Jan 14, 2023 at 22:11
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    I don't know a reputable vendor that doesn't attempt to capture and verify the billing address for card not present transactions. Many of them are offered a discount rate for doing so. The card issuer wants them to do it.
    – user26460
    Jan 15, 2023 at 19:39
  • Good point, how would Garmin ever know where you are located? :) No seriously, they do ask ZIP code and that may be the problem. Use the ZIP code off the credit card bill. Jan 16, 2023 at 7:22
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica isn't it Garmin's whole business model to know where their customers are located? /s
    – littleadv
    Jan 16, 2023 at 8:26

4 Answers 4

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I don't understand this. First of all, I don't see how a vendor would have any knowledge whatsoever of what address is associated with a credit card, because that is private information.

They can. When I was working for a credit card company we routinely provided address checks for vendors. They can't ask what your address is, but given an address they can ask if it is the same as listed with the credit card company or not.

Secondly, many charges I make, even very large ones, never involve any address information at all

This means nothing.

Why is an address even involved at all?

It's up to the vendor how they want to verify their online orders. The billing address is one of the tools they have. They can, and as you've realized - often do, actually confirm that the address you provided as your billing address is in fact such.

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    Let me guess your credit card company was in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom? As - as far as I can find out - those are the only countries that provide AVS? Jan 16, 2023 at 9:29
  • @DavidMulder no, this is network-wide, it's part of both visa and MC participation agreements
    – littleadv
    Jan 16, 2023 at 9:32
  • Do you have a source for that, because for example seon.io/resources/dictionary/avs-address-verification-service (and other websites) does not support that statement. More anecdotally in central europe I have never filled out a billing address whilst using a 'foreign' card (from my western european 'home' country) for years without it being an issue even once across tens of websites. Anyway, where was your credit card company based then? clearly it's more than the short list that I found online. Jan 16, 2023 at 11:03
  • @DavidMulder Absolutely. You asked me if I was working in any of these countries. The answer is no. You're talking about AVS, an automated system to verify addresses which can be very limited in what it supports (address formats differ widely across the world).
    – littleadv
    Jan 16, 2023 at 17:39
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This is completely normal. It's called Address Verification System and it's one of the ways of validating "card-not-present" (web/phone/mail/etc.) transactions. The merchant sends the billing address you gave them to the payment processor; the payment processor sends it to the card issuer, and the card issuer returns a code which indicates, basically, a perfect match, a partial match, or "couldn't verify" (in reality, there are more than 20 different codes).

Using AVS isn't required... as you say, there are plenty of times when you use your card without providing an address at all. But because it's an extra authentication factor, it reduces the risk that someone is using a stolen card and that the transaction will be subject to a chargeback later on. Since the merchant bears most of the cost of chargebacks, it's a prudent choice on their part to decline transactions with a mismatch. The merchant might be covered by a chargeback insurance policy which only pays out if the merchant verifies. The payment processor also bears part of the cost, so they might also offer encouragement in the form of offering lower fees to merchants who always verify.

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  • "Since the merchant bears most of the cost of chargebacks" For CNP. Jan 16, 2023 at 1:58
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I'm a software developer that worked with connecting websites with payment processors, so I can shed some light on what's happening.

When you enter your CC information to make a payment, the payment processor returns a status of the transaction without giving the vendor any private information. (See testing documentation for Stripe.) There is a set of status related to billing address, which is typically Postal Code mismatch and Address Line # mismatch. It also returns a "fuzziness" rating depending on how far off it is. Say you are on Floor 10 Unit A, you can type this in all sorts of ways ("10A", "10/F, Unit A", "Floor 10, Unit A", "Unit A, Floor 10", etc.)

It is entirely the discretion of the vendor to accept your "payment" regardless of what the payment processor returns. Of course, if the charge is fraudulent, the vendor is out the money.

For your specific online shop, they must've encountered enough fraudulent charges that they no longer want to accept a payment where the billing address doesn't match correctly. Just because other vendors decide to absorb the risk of the transaction doesn't mean they all must. I can assure you that setting up the shop to process the error code specifically for the billing address is non-trivial. It costs them money to do this, but they probably lost even more money from bad payments.

If you pull out your CC bills, using the address of your actual billing address will solve this issue. There's no good reason to not enter this correctly, since the store should allow you to ship to a separate address than the billing address, and they're not supposed to receive your billing address if they're PCI compliant.

If you're really concerned with privacy or whatever, change your Billing Address to a PO Box. The vendor doesn't care about it. They just want the payment processor to say your billing address is correct so that they get paid.

When a CC transaction is deemed fraudulent, it is actually a matter of what is "correct" to determine who takes the loss. If everything is entered correctly, and the product is proven to have shipped to the billing address, then the CC company takes the loss (they go after the card holder, because it is a fully legit transaction). If the billing address is incorrect, then the vendor will take at least part of the loss.

It is actually possible to setup CC processing that doesn't even need the CVC number, but the vendor absorbs 100% of the losses from any reversed charges, so most vendors typically don't want to do this.

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Uncheck this

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and some additional fields will unfold that will let you enter the address that your credit card is mailed to, which in your case is not the same as your shipping address. Yes, I know it's a PITA. I do it every order, everywhere.

And to answer your questions about how it works behind the curtain, like this.


Garmin: Hey, we have a charge from a customer whose card is 1234-567-890. We'd like to confirm the full billing address.

Visa: Always a good idea.

(beat)

Garmin: I'm waiting!

Visa: LOL no, we're not going to tell you their address, for privacy reasons. Ask your customer their address.

Garmin. We did! They say their billing address is 123 Main Street #456, Springfield AA 12345.

Visa: Um, yes, we can confirm that matches (to a specific degree).


Netflix: Hey Visa, we have a customer. Card 1234-567-890 and they gave a billing ZIP code of 12345.

Visa: We confirm that ZIP code is correct. You don't want full address confirmed?

Netflix: Nah, no need.


Secret VPN: Hey Visa, we have a customer. Card 1234-567-890 expy 11-11 CVV 999.

Visa: Don't you want to confirm their billing address or ZIP?

Secret VPN: Nope. We don't ask our customers that.

Visa: Okay then, that's on you.

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    Literal transcript of my days at the call center lol... Now though I believe it's all automated
    – littleadv
    Jan 16, 2023 at 8:24

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