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10/28/2023 00:20 AM

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Understanding and Configuring the Address Verification Service (AVS)

The Address Verification Service (AVS) is a standard credit card verification feature supported by Authorize.net. It compares the billing address provided by a customer for a credit card transaction with the billing address on file for the cardholder at the credit card issuing bank. The issuing bank then returns a code to the payment gateway indicating the results of the match. For instance, the AVS code 'A' indicates that the street address matched, but the first five digits of the ZIP code did not.

The Address Verification Service (AVS) filter provides a basic level of protection against suspicious transactions. However, it's not meant to be an absolute safeguard or suitable for all processing scenarios. There can be several reasons why an address and ZIP code might not match. While it's not mandatory to reject a transaction due to an AVS mismatch, we recommend enabling some level of address verification. For a more comprehensive approach to fraud prevention, consider enabling and using the Authorize.net Advanced Fraud Detection Suite (AFDS) in conjunction with AVS. You can learn more about this here.

You can configure the AVS filter settings in the Merchant Interface to specify when a transaction should be rejected based on the results of the AVS match. The following result codes are possible:

  • A = Street Address: Match - First 5 Digits of ZIP: No Match -  This signifies a perfect match between the street address entered by the customer and the billing address on file with the credit card issuing bank, but a mismatch between ZIP codes.
  • B = Address not provided for AVS check or street address match, postal code could not be verified - This signifies that the transaction was submitted to Authorize.net without address information, so the AVS check could not be performed.
  • E = AVS Error - This signifies that an error occurred on the processing network while processing the AVS request, so AVS information is not available for this transaction.
  • G = Non U.S. Card Issuing Bank - This means the credit card-issuing bank is not of U.S. origin and does not support the AVS system.
  • N = Street Address: No Match - First 5 Digits of ZIP: No Match - Neither the street address nor the ZIP code provided by the customer matches the billing address and ZIP code on file with the card issuing bank.
  • P = AVS not applicable for this transaction - This code is returned when address information is not checked against the AVS system. Examples include eCheck transactions, credits, voids, prior auth capture transactions, capture only transactions, declines, and other transactions that do not include address checking.
  • R = Retry, System Is Unavailable - This means AVS was unavailable on the processing network or the processor did not respond.
  • S = AVS Not Supported by Card Issuing Bank - This means the card issuing bank does not support AVS.
  • U = Address Information For This Cardholder Is Unavailable - This means address information is not available for the customer's credit card at the processor.
  • W = Street Address: No Match - All 9 Digits of ZIP: Match - The nine-digit ZIP code provided matches the billing ZIP code on file with the card-issuing bank, but the street address provided does not match.
  • X = Street Address: Match - All 9 Digits of ZIP: Match - The nine-digit ZIP code and street address provided matches the billing ZIP code and street address on file with the card issuing bank.
  • Y = Street Address: Match - First 5 Digits of ZIP: Match - The five-digit ZIP code and street address provided matches the billing ZIP code and street address on file with the card-issuing bank.

AVS responses B, E, G, N, R, S, U are the default payment gateway AVS settings. Transactions are automatically rejected by the payment gateway when one of these AVS codes is returned, unless you modify the default settings in the Merchant Interface.

Steps to Configure Transaction Rejection Settings Based on the AVS Response Code:

  1. Log into the Merchant Interface.
  2. Click Account from the main toolbar.
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Click Basic/Enhanced Address Verification Service in the Security Settings section.
  5. Select the check box(es) next to the AVS codes for which the payment gateway should reject transactions.
  6. Click Submit.

Note: In order to use AVS, you must require the billing address and ZIP code when collecting payment information from your customers. Please contact your Web developer or software provider to confirm that your credit card processing software requires this information.

Tips for Using Address Verification Service (AVS)

  • AVS code N (neither the street address nor the ZIP code matches) is the most basic AVS check. If you're only going to implement one AVS rejection setting, this should be it.
  • If N is deselected, then the following settings should also be deselected: B, E, G, R, S, U. These responses indicate that the address could not be verified by the card issuer. If you're not rejecting transactions when there's a valid AVS mismatch (N), then it's unnecessary to reject transactions that couldn't be verified with the issuer.
  • To avoid errors when accepting prepaid debit cards or gift cards (stored-value cards with a Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express logo), you'll need to disable the U filter setting. For these types of transactions, the actual customer's billing address often isn't associated with the gift card, or doesn't exist on file at the issuing bank.
  • Not all AVS checks from banks outside the United States will return G (the credit card issuing bank is of non-U.S. origin, and doesn't support AVS checks). Therefore, this isn't an absolutely effective method for limiting transactions to the U.S.
  • Code Y (both the street address and the first 5 digits of the ZIP code match) is the desired response in most cases. This setting should never be selected for rejection.
  • AVS validates addresses for domestic transactions, but most international credit card institutions don't support AVS, leading to higher fraud risk and potentially higher discount rates.
  • By default, Authorize.net rejects transactions that can't be verified, but settings can be adjusted to process most international transactions.
  • AVS codes G, U, and S can be used to accept international credit cards.

PO Box Address Verification

When using the Address Verification Service, you may encounter errors while trying to verify a PO Box as the billing address. Several reasons might cause this error:

  1. Most banks require a physical address for the cardholder. Even if the bill is sent to a PO Box, banks often have a physical address on file for verification purposes.
  2. It could be due to a limitation at your payment processor. If this is the case, you can usually avoid the error by entering the box number first. For example, enter “PO Box 1234” as “1234 PO Box”.
  3. Some banks do not verify PO Boxes. This happens if the bank stores the PO Box in a different field from the address and does not have a physical address on file. Some banks have confirmed that if they have a PO Box on file for the customer, they leave the address blank in the verification system.

The default AVS settings only reject transactions where BOTH the Street Address and ZIP code are incorrect. For the second and third scenarios above, this will not affect ZIP code verification and should not cause declines with our default settings, as long as the customer enters the correct ZIP code.

Note: By changing these settings, you accept any risk associated with processing international transactions as dictated by your Merchant Service Provider.

 



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