Scammed by your customer: how to prevent parcel fraud

You sell a product online and send it to your customer, who then tells you they did not get it. You suspect the customer is lying. Before you know it, you are caught up in a he-said-she-said with your customer. What can you do? Use these 4 tips to prevent parcel fraud.

Difficult to measure

It is difficult to show with figures exactly how big the problem of parcel fraud is. According to Fraud Help Desk, sellers rarely report this type of scam. In many cases, it is difficult to prove that a customer is not telling the truth.

Parcels must be re-sent

If your customer claims that they did not receive your package, the package may have gone missing. Enquire with the carrier, who will then look for the package. If this does not turn up anything, and if your customer continues to claim that they did not receive your package, there is nothing left but to resend the package. This is not just a matter of good service. You are obliged to do so by law (in Dutch).

As IT lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet explains, "As soon as the customer flags an issue, you must resend the package. Unless you can prove that it crossed their threshold. You can do that if the customer signs for receipt. A shipping confirmation on its own is not enough. The responsibility for deliveries that are not signed for always lies with you, the sender."

A risk of the trade

Engelfriet says there is a standard piece of advice: factor into your business model the cost of this type of scam, because parcel fraud is a hazard of the trade. "While there may be a grain of truth in that, this advice is not of much use to the entrepreneur who regularly pays for the expenses incurred. So do try to prevent parcel fraud."

Prevent parcel fraud

Reduce the likelihood of parcel fraud with these 4 tips.

1. Send by registered mail

Send your parcel by registered mail with a track-and-trace code, so you can easily prove afterwards that the parcel arrived at the customer’s doorstep. If you sell expensive products, consider sending the package insured. Your valuable package is then insured against loss or theft.

2. Keep a blacklist

Consider creating a blacklist. You can put the names of customers who may have misused your service in the past on this list. Note, however, that you have to disclose to the customer why they are on the list and when and how they can be removed from it. "Also be wary of sharing your blacklist with other entrepreneurs", Engelfriet. "That is a huge legal stumbling block because of the GDPR." "Sharing a blacklist is only allowed if that has been approved by the regulator, the Data Protection Authority."

3. Impose restrictions for customers you do not know

Prevent fraud by imposing restrictions for new customers. "For example, do not give a customer with a new account the option to pay afterwards for an expensive product. This will discourage potential scammers, who will not want to pay in advance. The downside is that even an honest customer might not buy from you as a result."

4. Check the suspect score of an address

"There are commercial parties such as Experian and EDr that issue a 'suspicion score' on delivery addresses," tips Roland van Kortenhof manager of Operations & ICT at "You can think of it as a traffic light system. You enter the data. Green is OK, then there are no discrepancies. The name, address and phone number all belong together, there is no BKR registration, and there is, for example, a current subscription to a magazine at that address. Orange is doubtful: there are some anomalies, such as a name unknown at the address. In red, there are several anomalies that could potentially be suspicious."

Van Kortenhof explains, "A red traffic light does not mean that this is a fraudster, as there are also good reasons why data deviates. Red does indicate that perhaps a more extensive investigation would be good. How you interpret things and whether or not you do something with them is of course up to you."