Accepting Credit Cards 101: What Your Business Needs to KnowNew security standards released today by Visa, Mastercard, and other credit card companies are going to have a big impact on any business that accepts credit card payments from customers. The rules, formulated by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, which represents the major card brands, are aimed at making your customers' credit card data more secure--but they will undoubtedly add to your administrative and operational costs too. Take a look at the requirements you must follow, as of January 1, 2014: Install a firewall separating consumer credit card information from the rest of the business network. Avoid vendor default passwords for systems. Protect stored data and encrypt it as it is sent over open, or public networks. Protect systems against malware, and regularly update systems and hardware with anti-virus software. Restrict access to the cardholder portion of their networks, as well as identify and authenticate access to the system Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data, and regularly test security systems and processes. Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel. Depending on the size of the business and the volume of transactions, it can cost tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars for businesses to comply with PCI standards annually, according to analyses from research firms Gartner and Ponemon Institute. Failure to comply with standards, however, will mean you risk paying hefty monthly fines (from $5,000 to $100,000, depending on the size of the business) or risk expulsion from credit card acceptance programs. As commerce increasingly migrates to electronic payments, cyberattacks against merchants have grown increasingly expensive and sophisticated, with the potential to expose ever-increasing troves of consumer credit card information to thieves. Two of the biggest attacks in recent years include TJ Maxx and Heartland Payment Systems, where hackers made off with information for millions of consumer credit card accounts.
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There are some good reasons for using a merchant credit card terminal. But before you dive in and grab one, make sure you really need one. And if you decide you really do, then shop around for the right one to best suit your needs. There are plenty of them available on the market today, but they aren’t all the same. It’s worth your time to gain a little knowledge about the differences.
With most terminals, the best situations are when you’re doing business with your customer in person. They swipe their card, sign their receipt, and the transaction is finished. But in these situations you have someone who is using a credit card that is ‘right there’ in their hands and physically at the point of transaction. They can either ‘swipe’ the card, or punch in the numbers on the keypad.
Terminals work fine by phone also, just by punching in the numbers and completing the transaction that way. If you are going to open a merchant account, then the odds are you’re going to need a terminal to operate your business. Some people have more than one account. In this case, you want to find a terminal that can handle this situation, and they do exist. Many of them are designed to handle up to nine separate merchant accounts.
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Charge It! Options to Credit Card Terminals