Selling age-restricted products over the internet can be a risky business to be in. It’s difficult enough to decide if someone is using a fake ID when they are standing in front of you in a store, but the process becomes even more difficult through the relative anonymity of the internet. One slip up where you sell an age-restricted product to a minor can have serious repercussions for your business. Luckily, technology is continuously evolving, and it is now easier than ever to verify someone’s age over the internet.
Electronic Identity Verification
Usually abbreviated to eIDV, electronic identity verification connects to both public and proprietary databases to match a customer’s information and see if the age the customer claims to be is legitimate. Not only can eIDV be used to prevent the sale of age-restricted products to minors, but it can also be used to help prevent fraud in general. There are several companies that specialize in eIDV that are easy to find with a quick Google search.
Age Restricted Products
While it may seem obvious which products are age-restricted, there are some age-restricted products that don’t normally come to mind. SmokingThings, an online vaping shop clearly deals almost exclusively in age-restricted sales, but G2A, an online video game shop, also deals in some age-restricted sales. Video games and movies are in the same boat as e-cigarettes and alcohol when it comes to age restrictions, and video game and movie vendors have an even tougher job to do. While shops that sell smoking paraphernalia and similar items generally only have a single age to verify, entertainment products have different ratings for different ages. For example, R-rated movies can only be sold to people over 17, but PG-13 rated movies can only be sold to people over 13.
The consequences of selling different types of age-restricted products to an underage person can vary widely, so it is important to look up the laws that are specific for your situation. However, some of the consequences for selling tobacco to minors can include fines of up to $15,000 for a single case and up to $1,000,000 for repeated cases as well as having law enforcement take your business to civil court.
In short, be absolutely certain of a customer’s age before selling them an age-restricted product. Use the tools that are available to help you decide, especially if you run an online business. Be smart about the decisions you make, and you’ll have nothing to worry about no matter what your business sells.