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Preventing, Identifying, & Taking Action Against Fraud

Jul 7, 2021
Written by Elia Badran

We’re on a mission to make sure that everyone in the CJ community has a fruitful and positive experience—and part of that is preventing and addressing fraud. We have an entire team that monitors the CJ network, but since you’re the one on the front lines of your program, it’s important to keep a close eye on partnership activity. Here’s what you can do to prevent, identify, and take action against fraud.

Note: Some links throughout this article go to the CJ Support Center and will ask you to log in to view.

CJ’s Policies in a Nutshell

CJ takes instances of fraud and other suspicious behavior very seriously and takes quick action in instances where parties are engaging in activities that violate the network's terms of use. All publishers and advertisers are bound to the Software Publisher Policy and publishers are additionally bound to the Publisher Service Agreement (PSA). Both documents outline compliant and non-compliant behaviors that all partners must adhere to in order to participate in the CJ Network.

If a publisher’s actions indicate fraudulent activity or violate program terms, advertisers can report the publisher to CJ's Network Quality team for investigation. NQ will take the information provided and investigate the activity.

Preventing Fraud

Create clear program terms and detailed policies. Straightforward guidance about how publishers should promote your brand is crucial—a lack of clarity or specificity may cause a publisher to inadvertently promote your brand in a way that may be undesirable to you (i.e., if you don’t want publishers to bid on your branded terms for their search promotions, you’ll need to be sure it’s clearly stated in your program terms). Read our Program Terms Overview for more info about how to create program terms.

Be selective about the publishers you bring into your program. Before you get started, it’s important to have a working knowledge of publisher models and their various promotional strategies. We recommend doing a daily review of publisher applications and any associated promotional properties before accepting them into your program. If you’d prefer to screen each publisher, set your incoming applications to Manual Review.

Monitor your transactions regularly to validate orders. As a best practice, keep a close eye on transaction reporting and order IDs to make sure they match the format you expect and be on the lookout for any unusual sale amounts, SKUs, or referring URLs to catch unusual activity prior to commissions closing.

Understand Extensions and Corrections. Knowing the ins and outs of the payment cycle ensures that you’re reviewing orders in a timely fashion, including timelines for correcting identified fraud. In instances of potential fraud, consider extending the transaction to provide a longer period of review for Network Quality. Note that you should reserve reversing transactions only in instances of confirmed fraudulent activity.

Identifying Fraud

Review performance data daily and/or weekly. Partnership growth is a great thing, but you’ll want to ensure that the traffic and transactions align with your brand, program goals, and restrictions. Keep an eye on publishers with clicks or commissions doubling or tripling month over month and consider reviewing the transactions.

  • A high number of clicks converting at an unusually low rate could mean that the publisher is using a non-disclosed or non-compliant third-party for traffic or that they’re not a good fit for your program.
  • A low number of clicks converting at an unusually high rate may indicate that a publisher is self-submitting transactions, which is prohibited. Another possibility may be that the publisher is dropshipping, meaning the publisher purchases the goods and then distributes them to their audience end-users. Dropshipping is permitted in the CJ network, but some brands may want to discuss this promotional type with publishers to further understand their model.

Watch out for signs of credit card fraud. Advertisers may notice that people are calling into their help center stating that they did not make a purchase. Review the CJ Transaction Detail report daily or weekly to cross-check Order IDs. Advertisers must alert Network Quality to instances of credit card fraud. In some cases, as with a loyalty publisher, the publisher may not be aware a user is using a stolen credit card. Once CJ notifies the publisher, they must immediately take steps to prevent the end-user from accessing additional CJ offers.

Review for objectionable content. The CJ Publisher Service Agreement (PSA) requires that publishers’ promotional means don’t contain objectionable content “including but not limited to content that is misleading, libelous, defamatory, obscene, violent, bigoted, hate-oriented, illegal, and/or promoting illegal goods, services or activities.” Reviewing publisher pages for such content and notifying Network Quality allows our team to review and act if necessary. Since this can be subjective, simply submit the request for review and the Network Quality team will make a determination.

Lead form validation is encouraged. If you’re running a lead-based program, lead form validation is the gold standard, i.e., this could mean that a customer must click through a link in their email to validate that they have interest in submitting a lead or signing up for a free trial for your brand. If you have limited or no validation, it’s imperative that you create detailed policies listing exactly what publishers need to know in order to get paid for leads and require information that is not easily spoofed.

Be aware of template sites. While they’re not expressly prohibited by CJ, you’ll want to identify and monitor sites like these. Here are a few signs you may be looking at a template site: 1. The text format shifts midway through the page; 2. If you copy/paste content from the site in a Google search, the content appears elsewhere; 3. The content looks like Google Translate was used to translate it into English; 4. The site has a low site ranking on Alexa or Similar Web.

Taking Action

So you've identified suspicious behavior, now what?

Gather the evidence. Gather all evidence to submit to Network Quality, including screenshots or video captures whenever possible. Identify all associated transactions and either choose to either extend or correct them, depending on your program’s policies and transaction lifecycle settings. Note: Correcting valid transactions that should be commissioned can damage your partnerships! Take great care to avoid false positives by working with Network Quality.

Notify Network Quality immediately. The preferred way to report publisher fraud is to use the Report Publisher function:

  1. Click on the publisher's name anywhere in the CJ Account Manager to access the publisher's detail page.
  2. Click the Report Publisher link under the publisher's name.
  3. Enter a description of the activity taking place with as many examples as possible.
  4. If you have screenshots, keep them to share with Network Quality once they contact you.

Though the preferred way to report publisher fraud is to use the Report Publisher function, you may also submit a ticket through the Ask a Question button:

Navigate to the homepage of the Support Center > Click the Ask a Question button at the bottom of the screen and enter the following information:

  • Subject: Publisher Fraud
  • Description: Include the Publisher's name, CID, and a description of the activity taking place with as many examples as possible
  • Case Reason: Partners
  • Sub Reason: Concerns with Partners
  • Use the Add Attachment function to include screenshots if possible

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Thanks for playing a part in keeping the CJ network fraud-free!

Topics: Network Quality,

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