Seven Ways to Protect Your Credit Card From Being Hacked!

close up of woman hand holding credit card
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The number of Americans having their credit cards stolen, compromised or hacked each year is staggeringly in the millions. While the new EMV (stands for Europay, MasterCard Visa, the major credit card companies behind the more secure cards) chips protect your cards in live, in-person transactions at a retail store or restaurant, the new cards are no match online or over the telephone.

 Here are seven ways you can add protection to your credit and debit cards.

  1. Get a secure wallet or purse

The new chipped cards are come with RFID (radio frequency identification) and NFC (near field communication) technology for contactless payments (Apple Pay, Google Pay, bank mobile applications and others). Unfortunately, this leaves them prey to contactless pick pocketing. A thief uses a portable RFID card reader to transfer money from your credit card as a “payment” to a nearby accomplice.

Sure, you can keep your credit cards in an Altoids mints tin or wrap your cards in tin foil. A more conventional option is to buy a wallet, credit card sleeve/holder or purse that blocks automatic RFID transmissions. These are not expensive and give you some peace of mind when you’re on the town or out of the country.

  1. Set Payment Limits on Contactless Cards

If you use contactless cards frequently, contact the credit card company and limit the size of any purchase made with the cards. You can always call them back and raise the limit for a specific purchase. Alternatively, you could disable the contactless payment feature, although that defeats the whole idea somewhat.

  1. Set Up Purchase Notifications

If your financial institution or credit card company offers notifications for purchase transactions, get alerts sent to your cell phone or email. You’re notified immediately of a transaction. If it’s legit, no action required. If it’s fraud, contact the lender and inform them of the unauthorized transaction. They put a hold your card and credit the fraudulent transaction. You can also set up other monthly notifications to help you monitor your credit. 

  1. Use Mobile (Contactless) Payments

Payment services such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, Google Pay and others use your cell phone’s camera to scan, read and store the data on your credit cards. To use these services, hold your phone close to the payment entry device and complete the purchase. Mobile payments can keep your wallet slimmer by leaving the actual cards at home. Just make sure you have a strong password on your cell phone so you’re not vulnerable in that way.

  1. Strong, Secure Passwords

Speaking of passwords, make them strong and secure. Use combinations of upper and lower case alphanumeric and special characters (check – some apps and sites don’t allow special characters) to make them too hard to hassle with. Many online sites (Amazon is one) let you use a two-factor authentication (2FA) so you receive a separate access code on your cell phone or email account to complete a transaction.

  1. Stick with Secure, Reputable Online Retailers

When you’re making an online purchase, even from a company as large as Amazon, make it a habit to glance at the address bar. There should be a lock icon and the first letters should always be https://. This means that the site is locked, encrypted and your transaction is secure. If you don’t see https, do not enter your credit or debit card information. It could be a fake site set up to look like the real site and take your money without a single glance back.

  1. Keep Your Card Within Sight

More restaurants are equipping their servers with portable payment devices so your card doesn’t have to leave the table to be run. You can always accompany your server to the machine if their system is not portable. Always be on the lookout for skimming devices on do-it-yourself payment systems such as self-serve gas stations. Gas station pumps are particularly vulnerable to skimming devices. If the payment entry device looks odd to you, move to another pump or pay inside.​​

For more information about keeping your credit and debit cards safe, contact Mike Krause at Sales Sense Payments, 585-704-6453, mike@salessensepayments.com.

 

Best Practices in Preventing Credit Card Fraud, Part 1

 

Best Practices in Preventing Credit Card Fraud, Part 1

As a responsible merchant, the best way to protect your business and your customers is to be alert for credit card fraud at all times. Here are some of our recommended best practices to help you check your operations and keep thieves  away from your cash drawer.

Learn about the industry

The payment processing industry, like so many others, wraps itself in jargon and confusing terms. Get familiar with the basic concepts, players and terminology so the service providers you decide to use don’t intimidate you. Look for these red flags:

          Long term contracts – don’t get locked into a lengthy contract; the industry average is three years and you will find some processors (such as Sales Sense Payments) that never ask you to sign a contract.

·       Leasing equipment – most equipment leases are four year, non-cancellable leases. If you’re just starting out, see what other options (mobile devices, etc.) may be more cost-effective.

·       Unknowledgeable/unethical sales people – this is a complicated industry and if you sense you’re not getting the full story or the story changes from time to time, contact someone else. There’s never any harm in getting multiple quotes, you’ll learn something new from every one of them. Get referrals from fellow merchants in your area as to what processor they are using.

·       Unbelievable pricing – every credit card processor starts with the same basic pricing structure. Get acquainted with tiered and interchange plus pricing structures and do the math on any quotes you get to understand exactly how much you will be paying for the privilege of taking credit and debit cards.

·       Overpromising, under delivering – unless your business is doing millions, you probably do not need the latest and greatest (caveat: unless it saves you money up front and immediately as you start) technology. Don’t let the sales person dazzle you with whizz bang technology when all you need is something basic.

·       Support after the sale – how do you get the equipment? Who does the installation? Who do you call if you need help later? What type of customer support is available? Look for a reputable company that is still there for you after the sale.

·       Security standards – Any business or store that processes, transmits or stores consumers’ credit and debit payment data must be compliant with the payment industry’s security standard, known as PCI DSS (payment card industry data security standard). Understand these requirements and what you must do to adhere to them.

Next: Part 2, Preventing Credit Card Fraud During and After A Sale

For more information about preventing credit and debit card fraud and economical payment processing, contact Mike Krause at Sales Sense Payments, Inc., 585-704-6453, email: Mike@SalesSensePayments.com. Please visit SalesSensePayments.com.

The Need for Speed in Restaurant POS

When I think about restaurants in the abstract, I most always picture my favorite sit down Cheers-like restaurant where everyone knows my name. Of course electronic tableside ordering would be extremely helpful there but for some restaurant owners, it is still a challenge to justify incorporating a new system when they purchased their register-based system a couple years ago. Tableside ordering is making significant inroads in this arena and most restaurateurs acknowledge that they will switch to tablet POS at some point in the future.

So let’s expand our vision beyond Cheers to vastly different food service locales such as stadiums, concert venues, food trucks, street vendor carts, theaters, amusement parks, outdoor summer festivals, concession stands at high school track meets, Pop Warner football and Little League games. These sites have one thing in common: they have to process a large number of orders for throngs of people in short periods of time. If mobile device POS had poster children, these fast service specialists would get my vote.

While standard PC-based POS system have historically been too expensive for these smaller food purveyors, mobile POS takes the price point and merchant services processing down to a level that can be justified even by the PTSA Band Booster Club. While some benefits of mobile POS such as CRM and loyalty programs may not be really useful in these moveable venues, capturing transaction data and maintaining accurate inventory are a huge deal. In their businesses, monitoring costs, managing time and understanding what’s trending lets these merchants adjust to changing appetites, schedules and food prices without missing a beat.

Less expensive merchant processing and widely accessible mobile food service apps have lowered the barriers to entry for a whole new set of entrepreneurs. These new restaurateurs probably would not put themselves in the same category as Wolfgang Puck, Guy Fieri or Mario Batali but now they share the same options for reducing their costs and satisfying their customers in any possible food service location.

10 + 2 Reasons to Use Mobile POS

Yes, mobile point-of-sale systems are the biggest retail trend of 2016 but don’t dismiss it simply because of that. There are many reasons why it’s trendy and a good many of those reasons apply to you and your business. Hear us out and then see if we’ve addressed your objections. Fair enough?

  1. More affordable than a standard computer-based point-of-sale system. Mobile POS systems cost about 50% to 70% less than a standard PC-based POS system as an initial investment. Technical support, operating and troubleshooting are included so on-going costs are minimal. For example, let’s say a PC-based POS system is $20,000. The comparable mobile POS would be between $10,000 and $14,000, shaving your payback period by the same 50% to 70%.
  2. Lower your credit card charges. Mobile POS uses standard Apple iPads, iPods and/or iPhones and simplifies the types of transactions accepted so your charges are less expensive from swipe to deposit.
  3. Flexibility to update, change devices easily and less expensively. When it’s time to update a typical POS system, it means an upheaval to your entire business that could last days. Working with mobile devices such as iPods or iTouches makes it easy to swap out and continue with the workday, no problems.
  4. No disappearing operating systems (XP anyone?). Mobile POS hand-held devices are standard-issue Apple tablets, iPods and iPhones so there is no end of support to handle.
  5. Quicker service, accurate totals, fewer errors or lost orders. Taking orders faster with accurate calculations improves your bottom line. Automating your ordering system also ensures your staff is making fewer errors and orders for food, services or merchandise cannot slip through the cracks or under a cabinet. All of these improvements add up to great customer service.
  6. Line busting. Everybody hates standing in line, especially when all they want to do is order or pay. Rather than having customers to stand in line, you process them where they stand – a practice fondly known as line busting. Untether your cashiers or order takers with mobile devices to minimize the time people stand in line, turning your customers quicker and eliminating impatient ones.
  7. Simplified daily cash out. Since all orders, refunds, returns and credits have been tallied real time all day long, batching or cashing out is much faster and any discrepancies are easy to spot and resolve without looking through the receipts manually. Maintain better records daily to make monthly and quarterly tax and withholding reporting a breeze.
  8. Better sales tracking and remote monitoring. Spotting surging or waning buying trends by looking at what’s moving the fastest helps you stay on top of your inventory and not get caught flat footed, either with too much of one thing on hand or not enough of what’s hottest in stock. Best of all, since all your data is based in the Cloud, you can access your sales and inventory numbers from home, at a conference or on the day you slip away for some much-needed R & R. While working IN your business, you also need to be able to work ON your business. Mobile POS lets you access data while you are working on future business planning regardless of where you are.
  9. Gift card and loyalty programs. No one needs more sox; a gift card to an unusual or favorite shop or restaurant is always welcome and most appreciated. Portable ordering and payment creates a more intimate, personal experience between customer and server/clerk. Capture an email address for electronic receipts and you have the perfect base for promoting your business, encouraging frequent return visits and suggesting gift cards for giving. Gift cards are the most popular item on everybody’s gift list and studies have shown that gift cards and loyalty programs boost repeat visits and attract new customers. You really can’t lose with this one.
  10. The beginning of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Larger companies know the importance of capturing and cultivating customers – the say is that it’s cheaper to keep a customer than it is to bring in a new one. This also applies to smaller businesses that aspire to be larger. Since you’re doing a better job of tracking your sales and getting email addresses, you have the beginning of a rudimentary CRM right within your mobile POS system. Send an email to let people know you’re running a special. Run a contest with free dessert as the prize. Publicize your new outdoor seating areas. Track frequency of visits and send a “we miss you” card if they haven’t been in for two months. You have all the tools to manage and expand your business at your fingertips.
  11. 15 minute training. Your clerks and servers will be up to speed and productive in 15 minutes tops. Virtually all teens to retirees are adept at handling some type of portable electronic device. The steps for ordering and processing payment are so quick and easy, even children could handle it.
  12. Welcome Micromerchants. Small volume or seasonal businesses have customarily been ineligible for credit card processing because the equipment was costly and setting up the accounting was expensive so merchant service providers weren’t willing to accept them. The mobile POS boom opens processing to these smaller merchants at craft fairs, home repair service vendors or even the guy who delivers your firewood because there is no costly equipment to buy and the processing required by merchant services is streamlined.

So now what do you think? You may have some “yeah, but….” thoughts still rolling around. If so, please give me a call at 585-704-6453 or email me at mike@SalesSensePayments.com