Despite Fraud, Credit Card Use NOT Slowing Down

Greenbacks may have been around for hundreds of years in this country but it’s plastic currency that handles most purchases these days.

More than a billion credit cards are reportedly now in circulation in the United States. Credit card offers arrive in the mail on a daily basis for many Americans.

Sixty-seven percent of all clothing sales, 64 percent of gas transactions and 62 percent of travel expenses are put on a credit card these days, according to creditcards.com.

There are a lot of significant dates to review in the evolution of the U.S. credit card such as 1946, when Brooklyn banker John Biggins introduced the “Charg-It” bank card, or 1950, when Diners Club got started. There was also 1958 when the Bank of America sent out the first mass mailing (in Fresno, Calif.) of a credit card called BankAmericard.

But 1959 might have been the most important year of all. That’s when MasterCard introduced the idea of a revolving balance, allowing customers to hold off paying their bills — and accumulate finance charges.

Today, credit card companies make up an industry all of their own. The names are well-known: American Express, Capital One, Discover, MasterCard and Visa.

Also well-known are the problems associated with credit card usage — and not just about making payments on time.

Recent massive data breaches at stores like Target and Neiman Marcus have made headlines, possibly compromising millions of debit and credit cards.

But Americans remain attached to their plastic. Visa, the world’s largest processor of debit and credit card payments, announced that first-quarter earnings were up 9 percent in January.

That’s despite a lackluster holiday shopping season with U.S. retail sales rising only 0.2 percent in December, according to the Commerce Department.

Visa reported processing 16 billion transactions during the last three months of 2013, up 13 percent from a year earlier.

Consumers need to do some research on the different types of credit cards available, said Mary Conrady, vice president of consumer lending at the CEFCU credit union.

“You need to see what you can afford. Credit cards are a nice tool for short-term purchases but not to live on,” she said.

Be aware that even zero-interest credit cards come with a condition, said Conrady. “If the customer doesn’t pay their bill in time, the credit card company can add all that interest,” she said.

It’s wise to check the credit card statement every month — and not just for a big charge that might jump out at you, added Conrady. If you see a $9.84 charge on your credit card statement, for example, give it a hard look, she said.



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Credit Card Processing:

Best Internet Credit Card Processing Companies

Electronic Transfer, Inc. named Best Internet Credit Card Processing Company

Ten Best Internet Credit Card Processing Companies Named by topcreditcardprocessors.com for June 2013
The independent authority on credit card processing, topcreditcardprocessors.com, has announced the ten best online merchant services for June 2013.

The independent authority on credit card processing, topcreditcardprocessors.com, has released their list of the ten best online credit card processors in the payment processing industry for the month of June 2013. Each month topcreditcardprocessors.com evaluates and ranks the best merchant services offering an online credit card processing service which aims to allow businesses to accept credit card and debit card payments over the Internet. While thousands of merchant services are evaluated each month only the ten best providing an online merchant service are included in the rankings.

The Ten Best Internet Credit Card Processing Companies for June 2013 are:

1) National Bankcard

2) Advanced Merchant Group

3) Electronic Transfer

4) Leap Payments

5) Merchant Warehouse

6) 2Checkout.com

7) Credit Card Processing Specialists

8) eMerchantBroker.com

9) Merchants Bancard, Inc. (MBN)

10) PayPal

The process for evaluating online payment processors involves the use of a set of evaluation criteria to benchmark and compare processors, connecting with client references to validate claims made by the agencies, and performing industry and market analysis in order to identify the latest trends and developments within the payment processing industry. The results of the meticulous evaluation process are used in order to generate the rankings at the start of each month which highlights the ten best services for processing payments online.

ABOUT topcreditcardprocessors.com

The independent authority on Internet credit card processing, topcreditcardprocessors.com, is a research firm dedicating to identifying and ranking the best online credit card processors in the United States. These merchant services are able to provide national services with flexible payment terms and service offerings for businesses of all shapes and sizes.


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Credit Card Processing:

Credit Card Processing Bankcard 101

History

The earliest form of the bankcard was “Charg-It”, a system of credit developed by John Biggins in 1946 which allowed customers to charge their local retail purchases.  The merchant then deposited the charges at Biggins’ bank, and the bank reimbursed the Bankcard 101merchant for the sale and collected payment from the customer.   This system helped introduce the first bank credit card, which was circulated by Franklin National Bank in Long Island, New York in 1951.   Once an application was submitted for credit worthiness a card was  issued. Merchants copied information from the card onto a sales slip and called for an approval for each transaction over a specified limit. The bank would then credit the merchants account for the sale minus a discount to cover the cost for providing the loan.

By 1959, many financial institutions had begun credit programs. Simultaneously card issuers were offering the added services of revolving credit. This gave the cardholder the choice to either pay off their balance or maintain a balance and pay a finance charge.

In 1960, Bank of America, introduced its own bankcard, called BankAmericard, and began licensing regional financial institutions to act as the BankAmericard bank for their region. BankAmericard is now what we know currently as Visa.

Other banks began looking for other ways to compete, in 1966, 14 banks formed Interbank, a new association with the ability to exchange information on credit card transactions.

The following year, four California banks opened its memberships to other financial institutions in the Western U.S. (Western States Bankcard Association). The product was known as MasterCharge. They have purchased the right to use this name from First National Bank of Louisville (currently known as National City Bank of Kentucky).

The WSBA licensed Interbank to use the MasterCharge name and Logo. In the late 1960’s, numerous financial institutions became MasterCharge members to compete with BankAmericard.

The Players

MasterCard and Visa are worldwide payment service organizations composed of Member institutions.

They do not:

  • Issue credit cards
  • Create policies for solicitation of new cardholders or merchants
  • Establish criteria for evaluating applicants
  • Set credit limits offered to cardholders
  • Determine procedures for billing customers

MasterCard and Visa are managers of their respective brand. As such, they:

  • Create advertising and promotion programs to support their brand
  • Develop new products
  • Conduct clearing and settlement processing of transactions(Interchange)
  • Set and enforce rules and regulations governing their bankcards, such as operational procedures, interchange procedures, and graphic design approval of their cards.

Upon becoming a member of MC/Visa, a bank is licensed to issue cards to its members. These banks are also required to provide cash advances on MC/Visa cards at their teller windows. As a Member, banks are issued a Bank Identification Number(BIN) and pay membership dues and assessments to fund Card Associations.

The Acquirer

The acquirer is a member of MasterCard and Visa, and is contracted with merchants to accept merchant sales drafts, provide authorization terminals, instructions, and support, and handle the processing of credit card transactions. The key responsibilities of the acquirer are:

  • Sales
  • Investigation Procedures
  • Pricing
  • Merchant Acceptance
  • Support Services
  • Risk Management

The acquirer usually charges a fee or “discount rate” for handling the transactions. The acquirer is licensed by MC/Visa and agrees to follow the association rules and regulations.

Some financial institutions are both issuers and acquirers. MC/Visa both require that the merchant be financially responsible and of good repute. The merchant has a written agreement with the acquirer to accept the bankcards as payment and to abide by the terms of the agreement.

The Issuer

The issuer is responsible for the cardholder account program which encompasses nearly all aspects of cardholder account activities ranging from acquiring new customers to billing current ones. The Issuer’s responsibilities include:

  • Acquisition and marketing of new accounts
  • Processing application; establishing credit credit limits and policies
  • Overseeing design, manufacturing, and embossing of inventory cards
  • Handling of issuing and reissuing of cards
  • Overseeing PIN Numbers
  • Maintaining authorization file
  • Providing customer service
  • Processing payments and handling settlement and income Interchange
  • Establishing collections operations.

Managing a credit card program is expensive. Smaller banks can issue cards without becoming an issuing member by being an agent. The issuer usually keeps most of the income from the cardholder account: the agent receives a small compensation for providing the application. This allows small banks to retain customers who want a credit card program.

Components of Bankcard Fees

  • Interchange
  • Assessments
  • Authorization Fees
  • Processing Fees
  • Processor Optional Fees
  • Chargeback and Retrieval Fees
  • T & E Authorization and Processing Fees
  • Ancillary Communication and Network Fees
  • Hardware and Software Fees

Interchange

MC/Visa are at the center of the transaction process, maintaining the flow of funds between issuers and acquirers. Clearing refers to the exchange of financial information. Settlement refers to the exchange of the actual funds for the transaction and the associated fees.

Clearing and Settlement Occur Simultaneously.

  • The acquirer credits the merchant’s deposit account for the dollar amount of the sale (less the merchant discount).
  • The acquirer sends the transaction, through a data transport network, to INET (for MasterCard transactions) or Base II (for Visa transactions). A financial institution can be both an issuer and an acquirer.

MasterCard and Visa send the transaction to the issuer overnight, credits the acquirer and debits the issuer for the transaction. In essence, the issuer pays the acquirer for the transaction, via the Mastercard or Visa interchange system.

Interchange makes it possible for the issuing banks and acquiring banks to exchange information, transactions and money on a standardized basis. During Interchange, fees are deducted by the issuer from the transaction amount and the net amount is paid by the issuer to the acquirer. These are called interchange fees.

MasterCard and Visa each own and operate their own international processing system. These systems connect thousands of banks around the world. Member Institutions use these networks to transmit information about bankcard transactions.

Transaction Process Overview

  • The cardholder purchases goods or services from the merchant.
  • The merchant transmits the transaction to the acquirer.
  • The acquirer then submits the ticket to the issuer for payment, via the MasterCard or Visa clearing and settlement systems.
  • The acquirer credits the merchant for deposits (net of chargebacks, returns, and agreed to fees — the merchant discount).
  • The issuer funds its cardholders’ purchases (net of chargebacks, returns, and agreed to fees).
  • The issuer bills the cardholder.
  • Finally, the cardholder repays the issuer for the goods or services originally purchased from the merchant. The issuer, via the MasterCard or Visa clearing and settlement system, has already paid the acquirer transaction amount, less the interchange fee.

From the cardholder’s point of view, it seems as if he or she is paying the issuer for the goods or services originally purchased from the merchant. In fact, the cardholder is actually repaying a loan from the issuer.

  • MasterCard’s data processing network is called Banknet.
  • Banknet handles MasterCard’s Authorization System.
  • The Banknet settlement system is INET.
  • Visa’s data transport network is called VisaNet.
  • The VisaNet authorization system is BASE I.
  • The VisaNet settlement system is BASE II.

Transaction Flow for Merchant

 

Retrievals

Functions

  • Storage of paper(hardcopy) sales drafts and film cartridges
  • Retrieval of items in the hardcopy retrieval and chargeback process
  • Request Fulfillment

Sales Draft Storage

Both merchants and acquirer store hardcopy sales drafts or POS tape. Acquirers and merchants typically hold drafts on-site for 3 years, and hold them off-site for 7 years.

Sales Draft Retrieval

Retrieval areas receive requests from issuing banks. MC/Visa regulations stipulate that a request must be fulfilled within 30 days from the date of receipt. Any request not fulfilled within that time frame can be charged back to the merchant.

Request Fulfillment

Request for all hardcopy sales drafts are fulfilled as quickly as possible for disbursement to the issuing bank. MC requires all retrieval requests be fulfilled electronically through the MasterCom electronic image process system, while Visa will allow requests to be fulfilled through the mail along with Visa’s Copy Request Manager System.

Chargebacks and Collections

When an issuer disputes a transactions (either at the request of the cardholder or for reasons of its own), the matter is handled through a chargeback or compliance case.

In a chargeback, the issuer returns a transaction to the acquirer, and the acquirer returns the payment previously made in interchange. Chargebacks result either from cardholder disputes or from rules violations by the merchant or acquirer; they help enforce operating rules and correct transaction errors.

The initial, or first, chargeback is always initiated by the issuer. It can result from the issuer finding an error in the transaction, or it may result from a cardholder complaint.

MasterCard and Visa have developed standard procedures and time frames for submitting and processing chargebacks.

The Chargeback Process

The chargeback process begins when an issuer, on its own behalf or in defense of a cardholder, returns a presentment from the acquirer.

Presentment is the stage of interchange when the acquirer, via the MasterCard/Visa system, presents the issuer with the transaction information. The issuer is automatically charged for the transaction during settlement, which takes place at the same time as clearing.

In other words, the issuer receives information about a transaction, for which it has already paid, and realizes that the transaction may be invalid. At this point, the issuer wishes to charge the transaction back to the acquirer.

Functions of the Acquirers

  • Determine legitimacy of Chargebacks presented by issuers
  • Represent all “representable” items on behalf of our merchants
  • Handle Arbitration Chargebacks if the representment is disputed by the Issuer
  • Forward paperwork to the appropriate area for crediting/debiting of accounts

Collection Functions

  • Acceptance of incoming collections cases from Issuers
  • Acceptance of outgoing collection cases from merchants
  • Submit Arbitration/Compliance issues to Card Associations
  • Reversal of inaccurate merchant transactions

 

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Credit Card Processing for Non-Profit Companies

There is increasing demand for a lot of people to have money on the go, and enable them to purchase anything that they like at anytime. Therefore even non-profit corps need to accept credit cards.

Unlike other companies non-profit companies are not after making surplus profits.  But more so to offer some form of good will by either returning all their proceeds into the business or using them for charity work. Nowadays most of the non-profit companies are

Card Processing for Non-Profit Companies

moving online to meet the daily millions of internet users. Most of the people are relying on the internet for cost effective and time saving solutions. Currently a lot of people are occupied with their daily activities. They have to save time in way like shopping and carrying out payments online from home. Online stores and companies enable them to save time as they are fast and pocket friendly.

How does online credit card processing work? Below are some of the important procedures of how online credit card processing works for non-profit companies thinking of utilizing them.

  1. Two bank accounts. As a non-profit company you should open two accounts; a merchant and checking account. The merchant account will be for your company where money from the customers is deposited after successfully making purchases and transactions. On the other hand the checking account will be for connecting your company to your bank account. The checking account is also the account where funds from the client’s bank accounts are deposited by the financial institutions that offered their credit cards.
  2. Payment gateway. After a customer has successfully completed a purchase, this is an order that is normally sent to the payment gateway where it will be processed. Here is where the information from the customers’ credit cards is sent to the banks that issued the cards for processing.
  3. Payments verification. The banks that issued the credit cards need to validate the credit card information and verify the transfer of funds from the customer’s bank account to your company’s checking account. Some banks will send tracking or order numbers, so as to enable your non-profit company to receive funds more easily.

Enable non-profit specific features and donation buttons in minutes.

  1. Credit card processing fees. Different banks that issue the credit cards charge different credit card processing fees. You need to know these fees so as you can make the necessary arrangements or adjust your prices.

Tips and Warnings

  • The two accounts are necessary so as to enable you to manage and track all your funds easily.
  • The payment gateway and payments verification will validate whether the customer has supplied correct information, and check whether the client has any or enough funds to purchase your products. This means that you should not automatically send the client product claim details. You should verify first, then send the client an email notification only after you have established the details submitted are correct, and the account balance is enough to pay for the purchased products.
  • Adjust your prices depending on the credit cards processing fee so as not to forego this cost as a company. In other words it should be included in the products price.

Why should nonprofits accept credit cards?

  • Encourages donors to give more
  • Accept more with a credit or debit card than other forms of payment.
  • Guaranteed and automatic recurring weekly, monthly and annual pledges.
  • Receive money more quickly – funds are deposited usually within 48 hours.
  • Save time and money – no paper checks to process.
  • Donors can receive benefits by giving (award points, frequent flyer miles, etc.)

Non-profit organizations can streamline the donation process with our free donation Web forms, making it easy to contribute to your good cause.

 

 

Visa, MasterCard Investigate Credit Card Breach

By Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Nelson D. Schwartz / New York Times News Service

Published: March 31. 2012 4:00AM PST

Visa and MasterCard are investigating whether a data security breach at one of the main   Visa, MasterCard Investigate Credit Card Breachcompanies that processes transactions improperly exposed private customer information, bank officials said Friday. The event highlighted a crucial vulnerability that could affect millions of cardholders.

The breach occurred at Global Payments, an Atlanta company that helps Visa and MasterCard process transactions for merchants. One bank executive estimated that about 1 million to 3 million accounts could be affected. That does not mean all those cards were used fraudulently, but that credit card information on the cardholders was exposed.

The bank official, who insisted on anonymity because the inquiry is at an early stage, said that Visa and MasterCard notified his company Thursday, but that banks had been frustrated with the pace of disclosure by Global Payments. He said that Global Payments, which is one of the biggest transactions processors, had provided little information on where the breaches took place, how accounts were hacked and other details that could indicate which customers might be vulnerable.

Banks said that when they could identify victims, they would notify them and replace credit cards, if necessary.

Bank officials said they were told by Visa and MasterCard that the breach occurred sometime from late January to late February, and included what is known as Track 1 and Track 2 data. That includes details like names, card numbers, validation codes and in some cases, customer addresses.

“Thieves are after high concentrations of credit card numbers, which makes payment processors the perfect target,” said Tim Matthews, a director at Symantec, a security firm.

The processors, including Global Payments, act as the plumbing from merchants to banks, authorizing millions of transactions each day.

With each swipe of a credit card, the card number and other important financial information travels from the merchant to the third-party processors and then to Visa or MasterCard. The data is then forwarded to the bank that issued the card.

The holy grail for hackers is the account information. The goal is to break the data’s encryption as it travels through the payment processor system, said Avivah Litan, a vice president and analyst with Gartner Research, a security firm.

This is the second breach at Global Payments in the past 12 months, according to two individuals briefed on the investigations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Another similar attack was disclosed by Heartland Payment Systems in 2009, a breach that began in 2007 and resulted in the exposure of data on 130 million credit cards. Heartland estimated that breach cost it $140 million in fines, settlements and legal fees.

The new possible breach was reported Friday morning by a blog called Krebs on Security. Trading in Global Payments shares was halted around noon but the share price had already dropped 9.1 percent to $47.50.

A spokeswoman for Global Payments declined to comment on whether hackers had struck before. In a statement Friday afternoon, the company said it had identified “unauthorized access into a portion of its processing system,” and had asked for help from external experts in computer security and also contacted federal law enforcement. The Secret Service, which investigates credit card fraud, confirmed that it was looking into the breach.

“It is reassuring that our security processes detected an intrusion,” said Paul Garcia, the chief executive of Global Payments. “It is crucial to understand that this incident does not involve our merchants or their relationships with their customers.”

Electronic payment industry officials also said the latest data thefts were not evidence of a larger problem. “These folks work night and day to secure their systems, but they are connected to millions of merchants around the country and nothing is absolutely foolproof,” said Thomas Goldsmith, a spokesman for the Electronic Transactions Association, a trade group.

MasterCard would not say how many cardholders might have been affected by the attack. The card companies also said they had alerted banks and law enforcement officials to the breach, and emphasized that their own systems had not been compromised.

“We have alerted payment card issuers regarding certain MasterCard accounts that are potentially at risk,” MasterCard said in a statement. A Visa representative said that “there has been no breach of Visa systems.”

Best Ways to Choose a Credit Card Processing Company

Best Ways to Choose a Credit Card Processing Company

The most important decision you will likely make in regards to launching your online business will how to process and accept credit card payments from your customers.  There are basically two way to accept credit card payments from your customers.  The  How to Choose a Credit Card Processing Companyfirst and most common is to have your own merchant account and process the transactions directly.  The second option is know as third party processing.  The decision you make regarding this will directly how you do business on your website.

One of the best ways to choose a credit card processor is by simply listing your needs and then comparing the different available plans.  Will cost be the most important element and what other factors will be involved?  Try comparing both a true merchant account to third-party credit card processors side by side.

How is a true merchant account different from a third party credit card processor?

True Merchant Credit Card Processors

With a true merchant account, you are the merchant and you have the option of applying directly through a bank.  However, this is often done through a sales agent.  The account will be for your business only.  You, as the merchant will have total control over the account and be totally responsible for it in everyway.  You will have to provide a gateway for the account because this will not be included in the account.

Note: Some companies that offer credit card processor plans will extend a bundle that includes a gateway as an enticement.  You are free to choose any gateway you prefer since they are totally separate entities.

Your merchant account for credit card processing is a direct account with Visa, MasterCard, Discover Card and American Express.  If you resolve to accept payments from their members, you must abide strictly by their rules.

Third-Party Credit Card Processors

A third-party credit card processing company has its own merchant account and they allow individuals and businesses to accept credit card payments through them or rather they do the processing for you.  A third-party credit card processing company has all of the power since they make the rules, which you must adhere to since they are allowing you to process on their merchant account.

When should you consider using a third-party credit card processing company?

-If your business isn’t registered

-If you have been blacklisted

-If you or your mechanize is considered high risk

-If you have poor credit or no credit

-If you only process a small amount of transactions

If you are a non-programmer and can’t carry out a complex API.

 

Additional considerations concerning third-party credit card processing

1. They charge higher rates and have extra ‘service fees’

2. They don’t perform credit checks

3. They can’t be used with a separate gateway

4. The third party processor’s name appears on your customer’s credit card statements

5. It can take up to a month to receive deposited funds.

6. You can’t negotiate rates for third-party credit card processing.

 

Most reputable online merchants understand they will be accepting credit cards online and that they will need a merchant account and a payment gateway.  There are good reasons for assuming this:

-If there are large volumes of transactions to be processed, the discount rate will be far superior with a true merchant account than with a third-party credit processing company.

-The merchant will have 100% control over the account.  The merchant can deal directly with customers and it’s the merchant’s name that appears on the customer’s credit card statement.

-Transparent checkout feature – Allows the customer transaction to be processed directly on the Merchant’s Website, rather than being redirected to a third party site.

-Portrays a more professional image – A true merchant account is a more seamless process which is expected from customers.

 

When you apply for a standard merchant account, you will have to go through a full credit check and you may not use the account in anyway for your own personal use.  The rates are always negotiable but high-risk products may garner slightly higher rates.  You may use a separate gateway of your choice for credit card processing and only your business name will appear on the customer’s statement. Funds will be deposited within 1-3 days and you may be subject to a contract.

Most online businesses that are just starting out have small margins and tight budgets.  Cost will be the biggest factor in choosing a credit card processing company for most of them.  The needs of each business will vary, as will the offers they receive for credit card processing.  In making a comparison, it’s almost like comparing apples and oranges and can be very confusing.  One way to approach the comparison process is to collect the data on fees associated with both third party and a true merchant account first.

-Setup fee: how much you need to pay to establish the account

-Discount rate: the percentage of sales that the processor takes

-Transaction fee: the flat fee the processor charges for each transaction

-Monthly fee: the monthly fee associated with keeping the account active

-Setup fee: the cost to set up a gateway and/or merchant account

-Gateway monthly fee: the monthly fee charged by the gateway provider for use of their payment gateway services

 

Once you have the above questions answered you will be able to get an idea of the cost associated with a  particular processing company.  There is a multitude of third-party processors and true merchant providers for credit card processing that may be compared.  For example, Papal and Verisign are two well known companies, but are completely different.

In Conclusion

No matter which method you decide to use for credit card processing online you will need to remember the ways they are implemented are very different.  They each have their own particular advantages.  Every business is different, so you must consider all of the factors involved with accepting credit cards online, not just the costs.  Sometimes, paying a few additional costs in fees can enhance your customers experience and the overall appearance of your Website.  Take ample time to explore all of your options

 

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Storing Credit Card Numbers Safely

Keep cardholder account numbers and personal information confidential. Cardholders expect you to safeguard any personal or financial information they may give you in the  course of a transaction. Keeping that trust is essential to fraud reduction and good  Storing credit cardscustomer service. Cardholder account numbers and other personal information should be released only to your acquirer or processor, or as specifically required by law.

NOTE: Even though it is authorized by the credit card associations to store credit card numbers it is illegal to do so in several states. 

Merchants and their credit card processing acquirers must ensure that Third Party Agents who are handling Visa account numbers are registered in accordance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

A merchant servicer (MS) is defined as a Third Party Agent that has a direct relationship with a merchant and is storing, processing or transmitting credit card account numbers on the merchants’ behalf.

This type of Third Party Agent performs services such as payment gateway, shopping cart, fraud scrubbing, loyalty programs, etc. Merchant acquirers are responsible for ensuring each MS maintains compliance with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS), validates PCI DSS compliance with Visa, and is correctly registered. Merchants should work with their merchant account acquirers to ensure all Third Party Agent rules and requirements have been satisfied, ensuring the merchants compliance with Operating Regulations. Any Third Party Agent that is used by a merchant must be validated for PCI DSS compliance and listed on the validated service providers list.

All stored, processed or transmitted sensitive cardholder account or transaction
information must comply with the PCI DSS and the Visa International Operating
Regulations. To protect sensitive customer and transaction information from
compromise merchants that store, process, or transmit cardholder account or
transaction data must:

  • Keep all material containing account numbers—whether on paper or
  • electronically—in a secure area accessible to only selected personnel.
  • Merchants with paper receipts should be extremely careful during the storage
  • or transfer of this sensitive information. Merchants should at all times:
  • Promptly provide the drafts to their acquirer.
  • Destroy all copies of the drafts that are not delivered to the acquirer.
  • Render cardholder data unreadable, both in storage and prior to discarding.
  • Never retain full-track, magnetic-stripe, CVV2*, and chip data subsequent to transaction authorization. Storage of track data elements in excess of name, personal account number (PAN), and expiration date after transaction authorization is strictly prohibited.
  • Use payment applications that comply with the PCI Payment Application
  • Data Security Standard (PA-DSS). A list of validated payment applications is
  • available at www.pcissc.org.*

The payment brands may, at their discretion, fine an acquiring bank $5,000 to $100,000 per month for PCI compliance violations. The banks will most likely pass this fine on downstream till it eventually hits the merchant. Furthermore, the bank will also most likely either terminate your relationship or increase transaction fees.  Penalties are not openly discussed nor widely publicized, but they can catastrophic to a small business.

It is important to be familiar with your merchant account agreement, which should outline your exposure.

 

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Credit Card Processing

Best Ways to Choose a Credit Card Processing Company

One of the most critical decisions for launching an online business is deciding on which credit card processor to use and how you will choose to process your customer’s payments.  There are two primary methods to choose from: You can use a true merchant  Credit Card Processingaccount and do it yourself or you can use what is known as a third-party processor.  The credit card processor method you select can possibly effect the execution of your entire Website.

Probably the best way to choose a credit card processor is by simply listing your needs and then comparing the various available plans.  Will cost be the most important element and what other factors will be involved?  Try comparing both a true merchant account to third-party credit card processors side by side.

How is a true merchant account different from a third party credit card processor?

True Merchant Credit Card Processors

With a true merchant account, you are the merchant and you have the option of applying directly through a bank.  However, this is often done through a sales agent.  The account will be dedicated to your business only.  You, as the merchant will have total control over the account and be totally responsible for it in everyway.  You will have to provide a gateway for the account because this will not be included in the account.
Note: Some companies that offer credit card processor plans will extend a bundle that includes a gateway as an enticement.  You are free to choose any gateway you prefer since they are totally separate entities.

Basically, your merchant account for a credit card processor is a direct account with MasterCard, Discover Card and American Express.  If you resolve to accept payments from their members, you must abide strictly by their rules.

Third-Party Credit Card Processors

A third-party credit card processor company has it’s own merchant account and they allow individuals and businesses to accept credit card payments through them.  A third-party credit card processing company has all of the power since they make the rules, which you must adhere to since they are allowing you to share their merchant account.

When should you consider using a third-party credit card processing company?
-If your business isn’t registered
-If you have been blacklisted
-If you or your mechanize is considered high risk
-If you have poor credit or no credit
-If you only process a small amount of transactions
If you are a non-programmer and can’t carry out a complex API.

Additional considerations concerning third-party credit card processing
1. They will not charge higher rates for high risk businesses
2. They don’t perform credit checks
3. They can’t be used with a separate gateway
4. Their name appears on your customer’s credit card statements
5. It can take up to a month to receive deposited funds.
6. You can’t negotiate rates for third-party credit card processing.

 

You may ultimately use both of these methods to use credit card processing online but the way in which they are implemented are very different.  Each has it’s own particular advantages.  Since every business is different, you must consider all of the factors involved with accepting credit cards online, not just the costs.  Sometimes, paying a few additional costs in fees can enhance your customers experience and the overall appearance of your Website.  Take ample time to explore all of your options in order to find the best cost-effective credit card processing company that fills the needs of your online business.