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Both purchases are virtual products.

A few days I bought something over the phone and deliberately provided a fake address as my credit card billing address (let's not get into why). This purchase went through.

Today I tried to buy another something and the stupid website (an airline! you'd think they are good with international) didn't want to accept a dash in my house address and the CC was declined.

So what's going on? In my naivete I thought Visa checks my address. And it seems it does. Or it does not? I am confused.

  • Different vendors use/pay for different levels of pre-validation, and/or use different tools for that purpose, and/or check at different points in the process, and/or.... – keshlam May 1 '15 at 1:46
  • The question here, I think, is fraud. Does this mean there are websites where you can just enter a CC number and buy stuff?? – chx May 1 '15 at 5:26
  • For some companies, the cost of checking every time is greater than what they expect to lose to fraud and resulting chargebacks. So they do random sample checking, or just eat the losses. Ugly, but it can be a valid business decision. You really don't want to know where and which companies employ that kind of logic. – keshlam May 1 '15 at 6:11
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In many cases, payments processors merely report address verification results to the merchant. The merchant then decides whether to decline because of an address mismatch. Therefore, some merchants are stricter than others when matching the address supplied with a credit card.

It's not entirely ridiculous to charge a credit card in spite of an address clash. Address Verification Systems are not perfect, as Boxtor's answer demonstrates.

"Because AVS only verifies the numeric portion of the address, certain anomalies like apartment numbers can cause false declines ..." (link above)

See my answer here for some more references.

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I had this same problem when I lived in an apartment.

My mailing address had the form "1234-4A Some ST". Certain web sites wouldn't accept this and I had to use the form "1234 Some ST Apt 4A". These ended up passing validation. The rest of the address remained the same except for the street address.

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