Credit card processing based on secure and reliable technology should be the goal of all reputable merchant services providers. But what exactly does “secure” mean in this context? And what should you look for when choosing a merchant services provider?
Secure credit card processing really means data protection, or shielding cardholder and account information from hackers and thieves who want to use it for illegal purposes. When a merchant accepts a customer’s credit or debit card in payment, they have an obligation under the industry’s Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) to process the transaction in a way that reduces the risk of a data breach that could compromise private financial information. This is known as PCI compliance.
One of the best ways to do this is to choose a reputable merchant services provider like TransFirst® who is committed to secure credit card processing and offers an effective data breach security program to its merchants. Such a program reduces the merchant’s overall risk of becoming a fraud victim, enhances their reputation as a trustworthy business and enables them to achieve compliance with card processing operating agreements, card associations and government regulations.
Some of the most effective data security procedures currently available that merchants should ask their merchant services provider about are encryption (SSL), firewalls, malware protection and vulnerability scans. New security methods are always emerging and being updated, including preventive measures like forensic examinations, data loss prevention tools, reviews of file integrity and industry compliance mandates.
While high-tech innovations play an important role in data security, one of the most important steps a merchant can take to minimize their risk is education. Business owners, their partners and employees should be trained to understand how their knowledge and actions are vital to the company’s overall security program. This approach includes — but is not limited to — mandatory training in data security procedures and compliance programs like PCI DSS to help minimize the risk of equipment-related issues. Driving home the message that minimizing human error and creating proactive systems helps prevent potential breaches enables all businesses to live up to their responsibility to be the first line of defense against fraud and data breach.
Every participant in credit card processing — merchants, merchant services providers, banks and credit card networks — has a duty to keep financial and personal data secure from breach. By working together, merchants and their merchant services providers can make a difference at the grassroots level to keep themselves and consumers safe.