Card-not-present merchants are battling increasingly frequent friendly fraud. That type of fraud–the “I don’t recognize” or “I didn’t do it” dispute–occurs when a cardholder makes a purchase, receives the goods or services and initiates a chargeback on the order claiming he or she did not authorize the transaction.

This problem can potentially cripple merchants because of the legitimate nature of the transactions, making it difficult to prove the cardholder is being dishonest. As a “he said, she said” dispute, the issuer typically sides with the cardholder, leaving merchants with the cost of goods or services rendered as well as chargeback fees and the time and resources wasted on fighting the chargeback.

The newest changes to Reason Code 83, a chargeback management protocol, offer merchants a streamlined approach to fighting chargebacks and will ultimately reduce back-office handling and fraud management costs.

Independent sales organizations and sales agents who understand chargeback reason codes and their effect on chargeback rates can teach merchants how to prevent chargebacks before they become an issue and successfully represent those that they can’t prevent.

Reason Code 83 (Fraud–Card-not-present) occurs when an issuer receives a complaint from the cardholder related to a CNP transaction. The cardholder claims he or she did not authorize the transaction or that the order was charged to a fictitious account number without approval.

Visa recently changed the rules and expanded the scope of what is considered “compelling evidence” for disputing and representing chargeback for this reason code. The changes included allowing additional types of evidence, added chargeback reason codes and a requirement that issuers attempt to contact the cardholder when a merchant provides compelling evidence.

The changes give acquirers and merchants additional opportunities to resolve disputes. They also mean that cardholders have a better chance to resolve a dispute with the information provided by the merchant. Finally, they provide issuers with clarity on when a dispute should go to pre-arbitration as opposed to arbitration.

Visa has also made other changes to ease the burden on merchants, including allowing merchants to provide compelling evidence to support the position that the charge was not fraudulent, and requiring issuers to a pre-arbitration notice before proceeding to arbitration, which reduces the risk to the merchant when representing fraud reason codes.

The new “Compelling Evidence” rule change does not remedy chargebacks but brings important changes for both issuers and merchants. Merchants can provide information in an attempt to prove the cardholder received goods or services, or participated in or benefited from the transaction. Issuers must initiate pre-arbitration before filing for arbitration. That gives merchants an opportunity to accept liability before incurring arbitration costs. And Visa will be using information from compelling evidence disputes to revise policies and improve the chargeback process

Visa made those changes to reduce the required documentation and streamline the dispute resolution process. While the changes benefit merchants, acquirers and issuers, merchants in particular will benefit with the retrieval request elimination, a simplified dispute resolution process, and reduced time, resources and costs related to the back-office and fraud management. The flexibility in the new rules and the elimination of chargebacks from cards that were electronically read and followed correct acceptance procedures will simplify the process and reduce costs.

Sometimes, an efficient process for total chargeback management requires expertise or in-depth intelligence that may not be available in-house. The rules surrounding chargeback dispute resolution are numerous and ever-changing, and many merchants simply do not have the staffing to keep up in a cost-effective and efficient way. Chargebacks are a way of life for CNP merchants; however, by working with a respected third-party vendor, they can maximize their options without breaking the bank.

Matthew Katz is CEO of Verifi.