Credit Card Safety for Merchants and Consumers

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Consumers and merchants alike have undoubtedly asked themselves how well they’re protected for each and every credit card purchase that goes through the system. While there are certainly some dirty tricksters still out there, using scanners to obtain confidential card data and the like, the fact is that paying with plastic has never been safer. Credit card companies have upped their games, protecting everyone involved in the buying process. These measures and more will give you the confidence to both use and accept credit cards.

  1. The Signature Strip – Often regarded as the first line of defense in credit card use, the signature strip on the back of each card provides the simplest protective measure—the purchaser’s own name. As a customer, you have additional means of proof that the card belongs to you (aside from your embossed name on the front) when making a purchase and can also prove via signature that the card is valid.Merchants benefit as well, as a primary function of the signature on the business end is to compare the signature on the card with the one provided on the sales receipt at the time of purchase. Additionally, if you’re the merchant processing the transaction, you have the responsibility (as per rules of providers like Visa and MasterCard) to request that a card be signed before you accept a credit card payment so as to protect your business and the cardholder from fraud.
  2. Photo ID Feature – Select credit cards are able to be further protected by the inclusion of a thumbnail photo on either the front or back. This is definitely a perk for merchants who process countless transactions each day, as the identity of the purchaser can quickly be confirmed by a quick glance between the image on their card and their live and in-person face! On the customer side, it’s a no-brainer because this feature is generally provided for free by the credit card issuer.
  3. Purchase Protection – If a card is lost or stolen, or even if its information was remotely obtained to make a purchase, it’s OK. As a general rule, consumers who have fallen victim to credit card fraud are only responsible for repaying $50 of the entire amount of fraudulent purchases. Occasionally, as is the case with Visa cards, a consumer will have the benefit of “zero liability” and be completely absolved of any fraudulent charges.
  4. Data Encryption – Added security is available to merchants who accept credit card payments.  We said before that thieves have gotten creative, and they sometimes try to intercept card data while it’s being sent for approval, somewhat reminiscent of computer hacking. The good news is that various terminals can safeguard against this by scrambling or encrypting the information that is sent so that it becomes useless to a thief. True Merchant offers terminals with the latest security features to protect transactions. Merchants are able to protect their valued customers with point-to-point encryption that starts working from swipe to approval.
  5. Card-Not-Present Protection – It’s all well and good that features like signatures and photos verify one’s identity for in-person purchases, but what about those made online and over the phone? Well, that’s where things like the CVV2 and zip code verification come in.The CVV2 is essentially a card’s security code, separate from the primary card number. When buying something online, customers often have to enter this code to prove that they know all essential card information (and are therefore the cardholder). Visa and MasterCard display it as a 3-digit number on the back, while Discover has it as a 4-digit number on the front of cards.  Merchants are able to protect themselves from facilitating fraudulent charges by collecting such data and consumers know they’re better protected because this number cannot be obtained anywhere but on the physical credit card.As an added measure, cardholder postal codes are sometimes required. Merchants are not permitted to request full addresses from customers, but a zip code is sometimes acceptable.  Verizon illustrates both CVV2 and zip code verification, as paying a cell phone bill over the phone requires each in addition to basic account info to verify the transaction.

Whether you’re a merchant pondering the safety of credit card purchases for your business or a customer concerned over where your information is going, it’s never been a better time to use plastic.  The safety features on credit cards today are greater than any of the tricks that unscrupulous individuals have in mind. Credit card processing is safe and convenient, making it attractive for merchants and consumers!

Authored By:  Jimi Romanus