Debit vs. Credit: Which is Safer to Swipe

Credit card fraud is on the rise. You need to protect yourself from identity theft. Both debit and credit cards offer solid protection to account holders. However, debit cards are linked to your checking or savings account. In the event of theft or fraud, credit cards provide an extra layer of defense because you have a better chance at getting your money back than if you paid with cash.

Fraudulent charges on a credit card can be reversed fairly quickly (usually 24 hours or less). However, it can take two weeks or more to restore funds to a debit card checking/savings account. And keep in mind, if your credit card information is lost or stolen, all major financial institutions and card issuers promise zero liability for fraudulent transactions. The same can not be said about protection for debit card purchases or ATM withdrawals. Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, consumers aren’t responsible for more than $50 if a lost debit card or fraudulent charge is reported within two days (however, your liability increases with time).

The recent data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus have shown that your information isn’t always secure with merchants. However, at Banc Certified Merchant Services, we help keep your data secure with our PCI Customer Support Team.

To promote the security of the credit and debit card payment systems, the major card brands established the Payment Card Industry Council (PCI) to oversee its Data Security Standards (DSS). The PCI-DSS is the standard to which merchants and service providers must adhere for the complete protection of cardholder payment data. To protect cardholder data and mitigate financial exposure, it is imperative that all merchants validate and demonstrate PCI-DSS compliance.

HOW TO GET COMPLIANT

When it is time for you to validate your compliance, you will do so through your Processor. All Merchants are given an online Annual Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ). The process takes roughly 30 minutes. BCMS will help you every step of the way with our dedicated PCI Customer Support team.

For more information on PCI Compliance, please click here.

 

For additional details, please contact BCMS at (877) 861-8008.

*Portions of this blog post are from Yahoo! Finance.

Why Are Electronic Payments Important?

The Strawhecker Group, in coordination with the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA), has developed a new infographic entitled, “Why Are Electronic Payments Important?

WHY

Visa Account Updater & MasterCard’s Automatic Billing Updater

Visa and MasterCard recently released similar products: Visa’s Account Updater (VAU) and MasterCard’s Automatic Billing Updater. These products enable the electronic exchange of updated account information among participating merchants, acquirers and Visa/MasterCard card issuers.

By automatically maintaining the accuracy of customer account data, these products prevent disruptions due to account changes. They extend the life of online and offline automatic payment arrangements by helping to secure these ongoing, revenue-generating relationships, all while helping to lock in revenue, reducing processing costs, maintaining service continuity, and strengthening cardholder satisfaction.

Merchant Benefits

• Simplifies and secures account-on-file transactions

• Increases authorization approvals

• Helps increase sales and retain customers

• Reduces the costs associated with contacting customers to obtain updated information

• Cuts customer service expenses by preventing interruption of payment relationship

• Reduces opportunity for service cancellation

Cardholder Benefits

• Offers a seamless account update process

• Provides uninterrupted service from participating merchants

• Reduces negative experiences caused by declines

 

Visa Account Updater

BCMS Check 180

 

MasterCard Automatic Billing Updater

BCMS Check 180

Read more about the Visa Account Updater and the MasterCard Automatic Billing Updater to learn how they work.

For additional details and how you can enroll, please contact BCMS at (877) 861-8008.

$6 Billion Visa/MasterCard Settlement

Credit card securityBCMS strives to go the extra mile to save you money. We want you to know what you’re getting at what cost and we look for ways to increase your bottom line. As a merchant, you need to know about the new $6 billion Visa/MasterCard settlement. The Federal Court has preliminarily approved a proposed $6+ billion settlement in a class action lawsuit, called In re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1720 (JG)(JO). The lawsuit is about claims that merchants paid excessive fees to accept Visa and MasterCard cards because Visa and MasterCard, individually, and together with their respective member banks, violated the antitrust laws.

The monetary portion of the settlement consists of two funds. The first is a cash fund in the amount of $6.05 billion that will pay valid claims of any person, business, or other entity that accepted Visa or MasterCard branded credit or debit cards in the U.S. between January 1, 2004 and November 28, 2012. The second fund is estimated to be up to approximately $1.2 billion in total and is equivalent to a portion of the interchange fees attributable to merchants that do not exclude themselves from the Rule 23(b) Settlement Class (“Cash Settlement Class”) and that accepted Visa and MasterCard credit cards during an eight-month period to begin by July 29, 2013. This fund will pay valid claims of members of the Cash Settlement Class that accepted Visa or MasterCard credit cards during the eight-month period.

The settlement will also require Visa and MasterCard to change some rules for merchants who accept their cards, including to allow merchants to do the following:

  • Charge customers an extra fee if they pay with Visa or MasterCard credit cards,
  • Offer discounts to customers who pay with payment forms less expensive than Visa or MasterCard credit or debit cards,
  • Accept Visa or MasterCards at fewer than all of the merchant’s trade names or banners, and
  • Form “buying groups” that meet certain criteria to negotiate with Visa and MasterCard

For full terms of the settlement and to make a claim, please visit www.paymentcardsettlement.com or call (800) 625-6440.

*BCMS and Elavon are not parties of this lawsuit.

What are Interchange Fees?

Credit CardsInterchange fees account for the majority of credit card processing expense, and a familiarity with interchange is vital knowledge for any business owner or manager. Interchange is the cost of the money transferred from the acquiring bank to the issuing bank for each bankcard transaction. These interchange fees are established by the card brands (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, JCB, Union Pay).

Interchange fees for the two largest card brands may change twice annually in April and October. The interchange fee schedules for Visa and MasterCard can be found here:

Here is an infographic from the Strawhecker Group that illustrates an explanation of what merchants pay to accept credit cards, why it’s paid, and the benefits provided to merchants and consumers:

At BCMS, we guarantee the lowest processing rates in the industry, so you never have to worry if you’re paying too much for processing. We offer a cost-plus pricing structure which is the basic interchange rate plus a few basis points to cover our services. To lessen the impact of interchange fees, you may follow this guide:

Interchange Qualification

A number of factors are used to determine where a transaction qualifies at interchange. Some of these factors can be controlled or influenced by the merchant while others can’t.

Factors that merchants can influence include:

  • Processing method: Card-present and card-not-present are the terms used to generally refer to the different ways of processing a credit card transaction. Card-present interchange categories carry smaller fees than card-not-present categories.
    • Card-Present: Card-present transactions are those where a merchant actually swipes a card through a terminal or by an imprinted and signed credit card draft.
    • Card-Not-Present: Card-not-present transactions (CNP, MO/TO, Mail Order / Telephone Order, MOTOEC) are made where the cardholder is not physically present with the card at the time that the payment is effected. This situation is most common for internet, mail-order, or fax transactions and is a major route for credit card fraud.
  • Transaction data: The information supplied with a credit card transaction impacts how it qualifies at interchange. Proper and complete transaction data is especially important for merchants that process card-not-present transactions and for those that deal with corporate and government enhanced data.
  • Merchant Category Code: Specific interchange categories exist for businesses that fall under a certain merchant category code (MCC) designations.

Interchange qualification factors that a merchant can’t control include:

  • Card Type: Separate interchange categories exist for credit and debit card charges.
  • Card Brand: The brand of a bankcard will impact interchange qualification. This criterion is typically associated with credit cards that yield some type of reward for the cardholder.
  • Card Owner: Whether a credit or debit card is issued to an individual, business, corporation or municipal agency impacts interchange qualification.

The extent to which interchange can be optimized for your business depends on several variables. To learn more about interchange fees, please contact us today.