Protect your business by learning about common types of credit card scams and scenarios that criminals will target service professionals with.
Scenarios that are always a scam
Customers asking to overpay for your services and give them or another person money back.
A potential customer will offer a generously high amount for your services and then also ask for you to perform a 'favor' for them, by paying them the difference between the cost of your services and the amount they have paid you.
The risk to you and your business is that the person you worked or the actual cardholder will dispute the charge with their bank. When a cardholder disputes a charge, the banks will pull that money directly out of your account, and hold it during the time the dispute is under review. You will be responsible for those funds during the dispute process. If you lose the dispute, then you are out the money refunded back to the customer, the money that you gave them as a ‘favor’ as well as any money you’ve spent on materials for the work.
Scenarios that are more likely to be scams
Customer only communicates via text/email. This customer may claim that they are hard of hearing or recovering from something to add to their claim that they cannot speak on the phone. They may also be asking for a large amount of work or bulk installation to be done but are never available to meet and insist on only communicating via text/email.
The risk here is that they are probably using stolen credit cards to pay for work and when the cardholder whose card was stolen disputes the charge, you will be out the money for the work, the materials bought for the job, and all the time you spent doing the work.
Customers you've only communicated over text/phone/email asking to ship equipment. If you've never met a customer and they are asking you to ship equipment (Nest thermostats, Generators, Hvac units etc.) to a location out of state or your area, be weary.
Just like with the other examples, what is likely happening is that someone pretending to be a homeowner is giving you stolen card information so that you’ll ship them something that they can then later sell. After the owner of the stolen card notices the charge and disputes it, you’ll be out both the money that they paid you and also the physical goods.
Scenarios you should be weary about
Customers asking what forms of payment you take early in the conversation. Something to be aware of is if a potential customer is specifically ask if you take credit cards before you've even started discussing the type of work that they need.
Customer's card doesn't go through multiple times.
A behavior to be aware of is if a customer's card declines repeatedly and they ask you to lower or change the amount multiple times until a charge successfully goes through.
If this is happening in the field, it might be likely that this customer actually is just hitting a per-transaction limit on their card, but this paired with another odd behavior is something to keep an eye out for. A great way to quickly check is to just calmly ask the person to call their bank. If they refuse to call their bank (because who would refuse to call their own bank), be cautious.
What can I do to protect myself and my business?
Get to know your customer.
Verify their address. Look up the address they are requesting you to perform work at or ship things to. Is the home vacant or up for sale?
Limit taking payment over the phone from customers you've never met before.
Ask someone else if this has happened to them before. Chances are, it has. Join our community of Pros to connect with other service professionals and get a second opinion.
Trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right, trust your gut, it is usually right. Require cash upfront if someone is insistent on using cards.
Learn how Instapay can have your credit card payment in hand in less than 30 minutes.