Campaigns, Credit Card Fraud and AVS.

The issue we, as ecommerce professionals, is that the Obama campaign has chosen to disable tools that can help verify that the contributors to his campaign are who they say they are, and are legally allowed to contribute to his campaign.  Why is this important?  In the context of elections, where there are laws that govern who can contribute, and how much they can contribute, these anti-fraud tools can prevent campaigns from accepting contributions that exceed legal limits, or originate overseas.  The McCain campaign has implemented these controls, but the Obama campaign still refuses to do so.

The concern is simple, without adequate checks, it is easy for an individual donor to circumvent campaign fundraising limit of $2300 by making dozens of contributions in the amount of $199 or less and using different names and addresses each time.  Because the contributions are less than $200, they do not need to be reported to the FEC, so the public cannot independently verify the names and addresses of the donors.

An additional concern is that, without the proper checks, a donor from a foreign country can enter a phony US based address, and unlawfully contribute to the Obama campaign.

One tool that the Obama campaign should implement is AVS.  What’s AVS?  Here’s a snip from Wikipedia:

The Address Verification System (AVS) is a system used to verify the identity of the person claiming to own the credit card. The system will check the billing address of the credit card provided by the user with the address on file at the credit card company. The other security features for the credit card include the CVV2 number and the expiration date.

AVS verifies the numeric portions of a cardholders billing address. For example, if your address is 101 Main Street, Highland, CA 92346, AVS will check 101 and 92346. Sometimes AVS checks additional digits such as an apartment number, other times it does not. As a result you may receive false negatives from e-commerce verification systems, which may require manual overrides or reprogramming of the AVS entries by the card issuing bank.

Simply put, the AVS can verify that a donor, at a minimum, is making the contribution from a US based address, with a credit card issued in the US, and make it more difficult a single contributor to violate fundraising laws by using multiple addresses.

Unfortunately, the way the Obama campaign is handling their credit card transactions, AVS will not stop all fraudulent activity.  For example, if a donor’s address was 123 Mockingbird Lane, Anytown 22001, that donor would would still be able to make unlawful contributions by using any phony address that started with “123” and used the zip code “22001”.

Right now, the only way we can make sure that the Obama campaign is not fraudulently accepting contributions though this federal election law loophole is to demand the Obama campaign release the details of these small contributions so we, the people, can verify that they are legal.  Please sign our petition today!

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