Internet merchants once viewed charge-backs and other payment fraud as a cost of doing business, mainly because they are difficult and time-consuming to fight. But with fraud sapping hundreds of millions of dollars from online revenues, companies that do all or most of their business over the Internet are increasingly pushing back.

"Merchants are not willing to accept this anymore. They are fighting tooth and nail," said Kathleen Attinello, an executive vice president at Receivable Management Services, which fights charge-backs on behalf of online travel agencies, video game sites and other merchants.

Internet companies are trying to chip away at the fraud problem by hiring companies like RMS, employing technology that spots potential fraud before it happens and using payer-verification services such as those offered by Visa and MasterCard.

Payment fraud is a bigger problem for Internet merchants than for bricks-and-mortar retailers because, unlike a face-to-face sale, an online transaction does not require a customer's signature or credit card imprint.

So it's easy for a customer to get a charge reversed — and time-consuming for an Internet merchant to prove the sale was legitimate. In most online charge-backs, the cardholder denies ever making the purchase.

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