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Payment processing terms you need to know: “this transaction has been declined”

At E-Commerce 4 IM, we work to help high risk site owners process credit card payments successfully. Among our services, you’ll find chargeback mitigation, payment software, and high-risk credit card processing ideas. As a result, we’ve gained expert knowledge on how to set up processing correctly. It’s your main line of defense against false declines and the resulting gateway error message: “this transaction has been declined.”

As part of our goal to make online credit card processing easier for high risk entrepreneurs and site owners, we create helpful articles, like this one. We cover everything from marketing topics like “what is a marketing funnel” to payment methods like “is PayPal an alternative for you” and processing news like the change to Visa’s dispute fraud ratios. This time we’re tackling a term that too many merchants come across; the gateway error “this transaction has been declined” – often followed by various error codes.

The most common cause of the gateway error message

There can be a multitude of reasons why a transaction might be declined. From insufficient funds to the customer entering the wrong information triggering an AVS reject.

However, very often the reason why transactions are declined is due to what’s called “false declines.”

The gateway error “this transaction has been declined” is very often due to the payment gateway setup being a little too conservative. If you’re not a credit card processing expert, it can be a real challenge knowing for sure. You can always talk to us about your processing. We’ll be able to help your high risk credit card processing and set it up right, so you can avoid false declines.

While we’ll discuss one of the most common causes for this type of gateway error message, it’s important to note that it’s not necessarily why you received the error message. To know that for sure, you ought to troubleshoot the problem with your payment gateway provider. If you need help with your processing, you’re of course welcome to get in touch with us.

Before you make any changes to your security settings you must speak with your processor’s loss prevention department. Changes could increase your fraud, and worse yet, an unauthorized change could cause your processor to freeze or shut down your account.

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High risk businesses are more likely to experience this issue

Even though all business types can experience receiving the gateway error “this transaction has been declined” message, high risk businesses experience it more frequently and for more varied reasons.

Since high risk businesses have a generally higher chargeback ratio, it’s always a good idea to have processing safety measures in place. These are great at protecting your payments and business. However, they can (inadvertently) cause more declined transactions than necessary.

If your payment gateway is set up with parameters that are too conservative for your business type, you might be turning customers away.

Obviously, this isn’t an ideal situation to find yourself in. However, it can be difficult to uncover and even more challenging to undo. If you suspect your processor declined a legitimate transaction, there are two things you can do:

  1. Get in touch with your processor and try to adjust the settings to allow similar, future purchases to complete
  2. Try reaching out to the customers who had their transaction declined and let them know that they may now purchase your product/service

That said, it’s obviously always best to avoid declining legitimate transactions in the first place.

What can you do to avoid the “this transaction has been declined” error message

While there are quite a few things you can do to avoid false declines and gateway errors, we’ll keep the list short here. For more details, you can check our article specifically dedicated to how you can avoid false declines.

1. Look at positive indicators in addition to negative indicators

It’s tempting to look very closely at previous negative indicators. However, this shouldn’t come at the expense of evaluating positive indicators. Keeping an eye on the bigger picture can help you contextualize the transactions.

2. Monitor and test your transaction history

Fraud protection is often about raising a flag on “unnatural” or “unlikely” orders. Keeping a watchful eye on your own transaction history can give you a leg up when coming across orders that might look odd to your chargeback mitigation system.

3. Get in touch with your customer

If you can, contact the customer directly to make sure the purchase order was intentional. This way, you can verify the purchase manually and troubleshoot by phone before the transaction goes stale. This is a great way to avoid lost sales and get around the “this transaction has been declined” error more effectively.

Avoid gateway errors! Get expert assistance setting up your processing and chargeback systems

You can do a lot on your own when it comes to reducing the number of times you get the gateway error “this transaction has been declined”. However, getting expert assistance with setting up your systems properly can make a world of difference. It can save you hours of manual checks and verifications and can take a load off your shoulders. Not to mention that your processing will run more smoothly in the long haul once done properly.

If you need any assistance avoiding gateway errors or with your high risk credit card processing, you’ve come to the right place. We’re always ready to give you the assistance and processing you deserve. In addition to high risk merchant accounts, we also offer chargeback mitigation services that can significantly decrease false declines while simultaneously helping protect your business from fraud. Simply contact us here or give us a call at 1-800-570-1347.

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