The holidays are upon us and shopping in stores and online is in full swing. This means hackers and fraud are prevalent as well. Merchants and consumers should be wary of where they shop, how they shop, and take time for a few extra steps to protect themselves from fraud.
Tips for shoppers:
- Keep track of your purse, wallet, and credit cards while you shop. Be sure to get your card immediately after the transaction is complete and take time to put it back securely in your possession.
- Avoid online shopping on public, unsecured Wi-Fi locations. It may seem like a time saver to shop on your tablet while enjoying a cup of coffee, but thieves may be on the same network and can access your information. Save online shopping for home and be sure your Wi-Fi is password protected to prevent others from accessing your home network.
- If available, use chip-enabled credit cards and EMV-capable terminals. Chip-enabled cards and terminals have started to appear but may not be in all locations. When possible use this new technology for better protection from fraudulent activity.
- Keep track of your purchases and match them frequently online to your credit card transaction history. Monthly review of your statement may not be sufficient during holiday shopping times. If you identify a fraudulent charge, call your card issuer immediately.
Tips for Retail/Physical location merchants:
- Use chip readers first if available or swipe the card if the terminal or the card does not have smart chip functionality. If the card will not swipe, key enter the transaction, be sure to obtain authorization, and keep an imprint of the credit card with the sales receipt.
- Take the extra step when processing a credit card transaction to look at the back of the card for the owner’s signature and ask for their state issued ID to match name and signature. If you feel this will slow down your checkout line, make it a policy for a transaction over a particular dollar amount.
- If shipping the item to the card holder, obtain the address information from the state issued ID.
Tips for eCommerce/Mail/Telephone order merchants:
- If accepting fax orders, add the requirement for the customer to also fax copies of both sides of the credit card and a state-issued ID. This allows the merchant to know the customer is in possession of the card and confirm the card holder also has a valid ID with the same name.
- Take the extra step to call the customer. It’s a great way to extend your relationship by thanking them in person, and it also adds another verification of the purchase and charge.
- Set an expectation of time between confirmation of the order and shipping of the order. Look for transactions that have different billing/shipping addresses, larger than normal orders, and multiple orders of the same product. Anything unusual is worth a follow even as simple as a follow-up email.
Holiday shopping is big business for consumers, merchants and thieves. Be prepared to recognize fraudulent situations or suspicious transactions. Consumers will appreciate the additional effort to maintain a safe, secure transaction.
Jennifer Autian is the founder of TCA Business Solutions and an independent representative of merchant services. To learn more about EMV technology or explore other payment processing options, connect with her at 678-523-8760 or by email at Jennifer@tcabiz.com.