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3 Ways to Protect Your Small Business From Credit Card Fraud

    

chip card.jpgFraud costs small organizations an average of $147,000 every year, while a massive 70 percent of customers say they would avoid doing business with a company if it suffered a data breach. As a merchant, protecting your consumers' credit card data is crucial, especially if you want to avoid hefty fines and litigation. Here are three ways to safeguard your small business against credit card fraud.

1. Train Your Staff

If your staff can't process a credit card transaction properly, your business could be exposed to fraud. This could have major ramifications for your small business, and even deter consumers from shopping with you in the future. Train your staff to follow the correct procedures for handling customer data in order to thwart identity theft.

There are plenty of resources on the Federal Trade Commission's website on how to process credit card data safely. When producing a receipt, federal law requires you to delete a credit card's expiration date and reduce account information to only the last five digits of the credit card number, for example. Your staff should be well-versed on handling payments, canceling transactions and issuing refunds.

2. Don't Store Card Data

Storing credit card data and processing it later (for example, at the end of the business day) could spell trouble. The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) outlines security standards that business owners must adhere to when handling customer payment details. The organization can issue penalties for non-compliance, too.

PSI SSC can charge banks up to $100,000 per month for serious security violations, and this fine could trickle down to merchants if they are liable for the breach. If you need to store financial data, use a third-party credit card vault, which keeps card data secure. This software encrypts customer payment information and lets you export data safely. Remember, PSI SSC rules will apply to your business regardless of whether you accept credit card payments online, over the phone or in a brick and mortar store.

3. Match a Consumer's Name on a Credit Card to Photo ID

While not a legal requirement, matching a customer's credit card with valid photo ID prevents fraud. Some credit card providers (Discover, for example) already require you to ask for additional information if you doubt the validity of a card. However, making this a common practice in your business can prevent the use of stolen credit cards, which make up 37 percent of all credit card fraud. Decide what types of photo ID, such as a driver's license or passport, you are willing to accept and pass this information onto your staff. If a customer is unable to provide photo ID, staff can ask him or her to pay with cash instead.

If you issue a refund to a customer who originally purchased an item on a credit card, don't forget to ask for ID, too. The card could be stolen and a fraudster might be trying to get cash. Alternatively, play it safe and place the refund back onto the card instead.

Forty-seven percent of the world's credit card fraud occurs in the United States. Following these simple steps could defend your business from credit card scams and errors and provide your customers with peace of mind.

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