Age Verification Aids Online Retailers
What Counts as Online Age Verification and What Doesn’t?
Most online retailers trading in age-restricted goods are aware of the legal requirement to age check their customers. What is less clear is what constitutes ‘reasonable precautions’ when age checking customers, prior to a sale. Being able to prove that you have exercised ‘due diligence’ in the course of online sales is key, should you be required to defend yourself in court, so this blog outlines what is, and isn’t considered legally allowable.
Legal Guidance for Online Businesses
Business Companion is an online resource providing clear information about trading standards law. There is a recognition that the term ‘reasonable precautions’ could be open to interpretation. As an aid to online retailers, they helpfully provide a list of actions that have been rejected in court in defence of due diligence.
- Requesting a DOB prior to the transaction
- Providing a tick box for customers by which they agree they’re the minimum age
- Including the minimum age requirements in Terms & Conditions
- Adding disclaimers to the site, stating that it is assumed customers are over the minimum age
- Using e-payment services which may not have age verification systems in place
- Using credit card payment only, as customers may use pre-paid, or debit cards that cannot be differentiated
What Constitutes Due Diligence in Law?
‘Due diligence’, in this instance, means that you have done all you reasonably can to check the age of your customer. There’s no definitive definition of what this means in its practical application. That’s because the online environment is subject to endless change, and fraudsters are constantly finding new ways around the age checking process. The recommended approach is to take industry advice for your sector, and accept the vigilance is needed at all times. Online traders are currently in a vulnerable position, and a proactive attitude towards age checking is vital to avoid being tripped up.
A Range of Age Verification Solutions
First and foremost, age verification software is considered the most reliable way to check the age of online customers. Should this not be possible, asking for documentary proof of age is considered to be an alternative approach, but one that’s obviously more open to fraud. There’s also the option of requiring collection of goods from a retail outlet, accompanied by physical age verification.
AgeChecked provides online age verification for websites that sell age-restricted goods and services.