The holiday season challenges online retailers selling Age Restricted Products.
With the festive season approaching, the challenges facing retailers selling age restricted products multiply.
DVD’s, Computer Games and Alcohol specifically become more attractive to minors, either as innocently purchased gifts, or because they have access to more funds at this time of year. Of course, enforcement agencies also see this challenge and will increase their attention in this area.
In order to protect minors, and to ensure compliance with relevant legislation, IMRG, the industry body for internet retailing and one of their members, 192business.com, an age and identity verification specialist, today recommend that e-Retailers pay close attention to their sales channels involved with selling age restricted products, and the protections that they have in place, during the festive trading period.
Areas to note are:
1) Payment Card types are no longer a definitive verification of age - Many prepaid cards can not easily be differentiated from credit cards and minors have widespread access to bank accounts with debit cards that can be used for internet purchases.
2) In the case of age restricted products, it is recommended that first time orders are only sent to the card billing address.
3) Card type, Address Verification Service (AVS) and CV2 are pieces of information to assist with verifying age and identity, but do not provide a complete picture on their own.
4) Retailers should make use of third party tools for ID and Age verification, to both cut down on fraud and to ensure that age restricted products are only available to appropriate customers.
A wide range of legislation is in place relating to the sale of age restricted products. The challenge for e-Retailers has always been the ability to verify a customer’s age, the technology wasn’t in place and self certification by customers was the only method by which sales of these products could be restricted.
IMRG encourage enforcement agencies to engage with retailers and take a common sense approach to this issue. IMRG and the e-Retail industry recognise the need for socially responsible retailing and supports action to minimise the risk of age restricted products falling in to the wrong hands.
Andrew McClelland, Director of Business Development at IMRG, the industry body for Internet Retailing says that “Technology and political will are now making the current methods of compliance obsolete; the days where a tick box confirming the customers age are limited. Card types no-longer provide a definitive picture of a customer’s age and reliance on one type of Database check can prove ineffective. Rather, all of these pieces of information should be used to build a picture so that an informed decision can be made about whether an order should be dispatched or not. A sensible rule-of-thumb is, if you are not sure, do not ship the order.”
David Pope, Marketing Director at 192business.com, a leading provider of age and identity verification solutions reports “The legislative background to retailing age sensitive goods is wide and varied and online retailers often aren’t aware of relevant legislation such as the Video Recordings Act 1984 and Criminal Justice Act 1988. To help clarify the legislative picture, we’ve just compiled a list of the relevant legislation for retailers of games, DVD’s, alcohol, knives and other age-sensitive goods. Our research can be viewed at: www.192business.com/agerestriction
"Gavin Matthews, Head of Retail at leading commercial law firm Bond Pearce LLP added that historically only a small minority of local trading standards departments carried out test purchasing operations of age-restricted products online. However with knife crime among young people and underage drinking high on the Government's agenda this is likely to change in the near future."
IMRG and 192business have also engaged relevant industry bodies such as the Wine and Spirits Trading Association and the British Board of Film Classification in their call to remind online retailers of their responsibilities to trade responsibly this festive season.
“We are delighted to be able to help our members in what is a very important area for distance sellers. By using age verification, companies can ensure they are meeting their legal obligations not to sell alcohol to those underage”, said Jeremy Beadles, Chief Executive at the Wine and Sprits Trade Association.
The British Board of Film Classification has a strong record in providing enforceable film and media age restrictions for the cinema and the traditional retail sector. BBFC.online member businesses using the internet to retail or deliver film and media content digitally have the same responsibility. We are recommending that members use customer age verification solutions” said Andrew Cooke, Business Manager, BBFC
In response to this changing landscape, IMRG, in conjunction with 192business.com, the WSTA, BBFC and Bond Pearce LLP, are running a clinic in early 2009 which will bring retailers up to date with new developments and highlight existing legislation.
So what can online retailers do?
192 offer a real time age verification service, available to manually check orders, or to integrate into your order process via API.
Our services can also help you lower your fraud and chargeback rates, whilst supporting the customer acquisiton process. To find out more, request a free trial today or you can download our product brochures using the links below:
192 Player-ID: ensures that internet gaming sites can detect players under the age of 18 during the account creation process.
192 eShopper-ID: enables retailers to verify customer age and identity during the transaction process.