4 Credit Card Processing Tips for Consultants & Accountants

profits Following several years of regulatory and technology credit card processing changes, 2015 has been another big year of changes. As we close out 2015, what are you advising clients to maximize profits? Every consultant to distributors, especially for building materials, including lumber and millwork, electrical, marble & stone, and plumbing supply, needs to update their merchant services knowledge. These businesses tend to have both a retail and a ‘to the trade’ component, making old solutions potentially outdated, risky, and costly.

  1. EMV liability shift October 2015, shifted liability for counterfeit card, and sometimes lost and stolen card, transaction losses from the issuer to the merchant, if the merchant does not support EMV chip card acceptance. Since businesses never saw this fraud, the financial risk is unknown, but guesses put it in the 1-2% of sales range. The first acquirer (Vantiv) announced penalties effective January 1 if a retail operation does not support EMV chip card transactions. These fees will grow throughout the payment chain in 2016, and be passed down to the merchant. If profit margins are important, EMV compliance is not optional. Between growth in credit card fraud losses and new penalties, distributors need to make the change ASAP.
  2. EMV terminal selection. Retail Distributors fall into two categories: Those who use countertop terminals, and those who use anything else, including mag swipe reader or signature capture terminal. Only the latter are even capable of supporting level 3 data, critical for qualifying for level 3 interchange rates, which makes up more than 95% of credit card processing, or merchant, fees. Yet, the vast majority of recommended EMV solutions are incapable of level 3, and or there is no certification for it. While updating, add NFC for ApplePay and newer payment methods, and P2PE, which encrypts at the terminal head, further mitigating data breach risk.  The best EMV terminal selection for distributors may reduce merchant fees an average of 32% and mitigate data breach risk. Conversely, the wrong choice will directly reduce profit margins. 
  3. PCI Compliance. Internal and external data breaches are a serious growing problem (Lowes and Home Depot both admitted), and best practices are being shared among peers that are ‘risky’ at best. Top areas of concern are paper credit card authorization forms and electronically storing card data (without certified compliant tokenization such as a payment gateway). Both should be eliminated. Online pay pages and other technology solutions have negated the need for employees to ever have access to credit card data, not even for a minute. Has your own company eliminated them?
  4. Quickbooks. For operations that used Intuit Merchant Services because there was no other integrated choice, that’s no longer an issue. Third party integrations empower businesses to use any acquirer. Look for one that supports all payment methods needed (ACH, check, wire, credit card etc). If processing more than $500k annually, fees may drop up to 50%.

CHRISTINE’S RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CLIENT ADVICE TO DISTRIBUTORS:

  • Implement EMV ASAP to avoid penalties and fraud losses.
  • Only implement an EMV solution certified for level 3 processing to maximize profit margins.
  • Get PCI 3.0 Compliant to mitigate risk of financial losses from a data breach- Replace all practices that include credit card access by any employee, even for a minute, with a technology solution.
  • Replace Intuit Merchant Services to maximize profit margins.

Note: this advice is applicable to any business that has a customer base which includes some business to business and retail, even if retail is a small part of the overall payment types accepted.

Can you recommend a PCI Compliant policy for storing credit cards?

Distributors and manufacturers can overcome PCI Compliance issues with better awareness of rules, and cost efficient solutions to ease PCI burden. A review of key problems and solutions will help companies with internal credit card authorization and storage policies. For credit card processing, a virtual terminal or integrated gateway, is the only cost efficient and secure option for these business types.

It’s never Ok to store credit card forms that have the CVV2, or security code, on them. It’s also never Ok to store CVV2 electronically in any format, encrypted or not. This is both a card acceptance and PCI Compliance 3.0, section 3 Protect Cardholder Data, problem. For any recurring charges, including variable, merchants only need to validate the CVV one time for a fraud check, and then never again. This is easily accomplished with a zero dollar authorization, however not all gateways support this feature.

The best paper credit card authorization form, is one that doesn’t have full card data, or better yet, doesn’t exist at all. If sales reps in the field are getting card numbers to be charged later, consider a mobile payment app that let’s them swipe and create a token, using a P2P encrypted reader. That way card data is never exposed at any point in time. Instead of getting card numbers over the phone, empower customers to self pay or store card data using online payment solutions, including either a hosted online pay page or electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP). Use this to also eliminate credit card data in emails, which is another PCI Compliance problem.

Need to keep a card stored on file that you initiate charges on? It’s indefensible with today’s technology to have credit card data on paper, and it’s risky to use your own encrypted media. Tokenization, a payment gateway service for merchants to remove sensitive data from their environments, is the best practice for security and PCI Compliance.

Some businesses want a signature on file. A sales receipt is generated with almost any online payment solution and merchants can require a customer to print and sign it, or to simply forward the email receipt from company email address with typed name approving it. For recurring billing, choose a payment gateway that generates a PCI Compliant recurring billing authorization form. They’re useless if stolen, and contain all the right language for credit card authorization. It should be supplemented by a signed document with your own custom business terms and conditions, and limitations for duration and maximum charge amounts allowed. Merchants might also get a signed sales order with all terms and conditions, plus the token ID the customer has agreed you’ll charge to.

Third-party credit card authorization doesn’t exist as far as card issuers are concerned. It’s specifically written in the cardholder terms that they cannot allow any third party to use their card. Any form a merchant creates authorizing other parties is at risk for future disputes. The merchant can eliminate the risk by having the company issue purchasing cards for each buyer, or mitigate risk by sending the sales receipt automatically to the cardholder and asking the buyer to confirm receipt per T’s & C’s.

A huge problem is managing old stored data created prior to new PCI Compliance rules. The reality is, the merchant is not PCI Compliant as long as the old stuff exists. That likely means someone will need to be assigned to identify all the past ways that credit card numbers were captured. For electronic, IT will need to get involved to securely remove old data. There are tools to search emails and servers for card data as well.

PCI 3.0, in effect now, requires merchants not only are PCI compliant at a point in time, but that there’s a plan in place for monitoring and inspecting. Whoever is cleaning up the old problems should document who, what, where, how and when activities were identified and or completed, and continually add this to the master PCI file.

References:

Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard, v3.1, pg 36 CVV
Visa Core Rules, October 2014 page 266, Merchant Must Not Request the Card Verification Value 2 data on any paper Order Form

 

Video: PCI Compliant credit card authorization forms

Token billing solves the problem of storing credit card data for recurring billing customers, but that doesn’t fix the merchant problem of replacing credit card authorization forms.

Video Transcript: Meet Mary.  She manages accounts receivable. The problem is credit card security. Customer approval is needed for accounts on file. Image credit card authorization form. But there’s no secure way to store the authorization without also storing the credit card number and security code.

Until now. Introducing 3D Merchant Services. Cloud payment solutions that work with YOUR financial partners. Here’s how it works. Create a token. Image iphone, computer with virtual terminal screen, batch upload, point of sale, and integrated solutions. Anywhere.  Or have customers create and manage their own. Electronic bill presentment and payment, ecommerce, online payments. And then, for every token created, a prefilled form is automatically created! PCI DSS compliant.

Charge cards in seconds. Rocket blasting. ACH? Ditto. Efficient, secure, processor neutral, Level III processing, YES.

Call 3D Merchant Services 954-942-0483 for a demo and free trial.

Author: Christine Speedy. “PCI compliance is virtually impossible without a technology solution.  The right payment gateway selection is critical to merchant success and reduced PCI burden.”

 

You completed PCI Rapid Comply, what’s next?

irst Data pci rapid comply

Screenshot of PCI Rapid Comply by First Data home page

You’ve completed the online forms at PCI Rapid comply, what’s next? By now you already know that PCI is not a quarterly or annual event.

First, If you received notice of noncompliance, print the web page shown above and send to your merchant processor relationship manager to stop recurring non-compliance fees, if applicable.

Next, go to MY DOCUMENTS and download everything. These are starter documents to help you with compliance, but you’ll need to modify and add some information.

pci-rapidcomply-docsFor example, on the incident response form, you’ll need to add the responsible names and contact information.

The security policy should be reviewed and disseminated to all employees that touch payments, and are involved in network security. I recommend HR manage the confirmed receipt as part of employee performance reviews. You may want to create a test to validate employee understanding, and record the date and time of completion to prove compliance.

  • The Risk Management Guide has a number of blanks to fill in. If you have retail transactions, you’ll need to create a monitoring and inspection program, which includes serial numbers and locations of all equipment.
  • Enter network administrator and payment administration on the access control guide. If you’re a CenPOS user, most of this requirement is managed with CenPOS Roles & user management.
  • Maintaining and monitoring your program is a critical component of PCI 3.0. If you don’t currently have a compliance officer, create accountability by assigning someone to ensure monitoring is completed on schedule.

About PCI Rapid Comply: PCI Rapid Comply is a First Data service available to all their merchants. First Data merchants can use this or a third party service of their choice.

About 3D Merchant Services author Christine Speedy: Offers payment gateway and cloud solutions to reduce scope and PCI Compliance burden. No new merchant account is required, however merchant services are available upon request. PCI Rapid Comply is available to merchant clients on select processor platforms, at no additional fee.