How to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Theft

protecting yourself from credit card theft

Last fall, I received an email that appeared to be from my web host. The email claimed that there was a problem with my payment information and asked me to update it. I clicked on the link in the email and entered my credit card number, thinking that a recent change I’d made to my site must have caused a problem.

The next morning, I logged onto my credit card account to find two large unauthorized purchases. A scammer had successfully phished my payment information from me.

This failure of security is pretty embarrassing for a personal finance writer. I know better than to click through an email link claiming to be from my bank, credit card lender, or other financial institution. But because the email came from a source that wasn’t specifically financial (and because I was thinking about the changes I had made to my website just the day before), I let myself get played.

Thankfully, because I check my credit card balance daily, the scammers didn’t get away with it. However, it’s better to be proactive about avoiding credit card theft so you’re not stuck with the cleanup, which took me several months to complete.

Here’s how you can protect yourself from credit card theft. 

Protecting your physical credit card

Stealing your physical credit or debit card is in some respects the easiest way for a scammer to get their hands on your sweet, sweet money. With the actual card in hand, a scammer has all the information they need to make fraudulent purchases: the credit card number, expiration date, and the security code on the back.

That means keeping your physical cards safe is one of the best ways to protect yourself from credit card theft. Don’t carry more cards than you intend to use. Having every card you own in a bulging wallet makes it more likely someone could steal one when you’re not paying attention and you may not realize it’s gone if you have multiple cards.

Another common place where you might be separated from your card is at a restaurant. After you’ve paid your bill, it can be easy to forget if you’ve put away your card (especially if you’ve been enjoying adult beverages). So make it a habit to confirm that you have your card before you leave a restaurant.

If you do find yourself missing a credit or debit card, make sure you call your bank immediately to report it lost or stolen. The faster you move to lock down the card, the less likely the scammers will be able to make fraudulent charges. Make sure you have your bank’s phone number written down somewhere so you’re able to contact them quickly if your card is stolen or lost. (See also: Don’t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen)

Recognizing card skimmers

Credit card thieves also go high-tech to get your information. Credit card skimmers are small devices placed on a legitimate spot for a card scanner, such as on a gas pump or ATM. 

When you scan your card to pay, the skimmer device captures all the information stored in your card’s magnetic stripe. In some cases, when there’s a skimmer placed on an ATM, there’s also a tiny camera set up to record you entering your PIN so the fraudster has all the info they need to access your account.

The good news is that it’s possible to detect a card skimmer in the wild. Gas stations and ATMs are the most common places where you’ll see skimmer devices. Generally, these devices will often stick out past the panel rather than sit flush with it, as the legitimate credit card scanner is supposed to. Other red flags to look for are scanners that seem to jiggle or move slightly instead of being firmly affixed, or a pin pad that appears thicker than normal. All of these can potentially indicate a skimmer is in place. 

If you find something that looks hinky, go to a different gas station or ATM. Better safe than sorry. (See also: 18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen)

Protecting your credit card numbers at home

Your home is another place thieves will go searching for your sensitive information. To start, you likely receive credit card offers, the cards themselves, and your statements in the mail. While mail theft is relatively rare (it’s a federal crime, after all), it’s still a good idea to make sure you collect your mail daily and put a hold on it when you go out of town.

Once you get your card-related paperwork in the house, however, you still may be vulnerable. Because credit card scammers are not above a little dumpster diving to get their hands on your credit card number. This is why it’s a good idea to shred any paperwork with your credit card number and other identifying information on it before you throw it away.

Finally, protecting your credit cards at home also means being wary about whom you share information with over the phone. Unless you’ve initiated a phone call of your own volition — not because you’re calling someone who left a voicemail — you should never share your credit card numbers over the phone. Scammers will pose as customer service agents from your financial institution or a merchant you frequent to get your payment information. To be sure, you can hang up and call the institution yourself using the main phone number.

Keeping your cards safe online

You should never provide your credit card information via a link in an email purporting to be from your financial institution or a merchant. Scammers are able to make their fake emails and websites look legitimate, which was exactly the reason I fell victim to this fraud.

But even with my momentary lapse in judgment about being asked for my payment information from my "web host," there were other warning signs that I could’ve heeded if I had been paying attention. 

The first is the actual email address. These fake emails will often have a legitimate looking display name, which is the only thing you might see in your email. However, if you hover over or click on the display name, you can see the actual email address that sent you the message. Illegitimate addresses do not follow the same email address format you’ll see from the legitimate company.

In addition to that, looking at the URL that showed up when I clicked the link could’ve told me something weird was going on. Any legitimate site that needs your financial information will have a secure URL to accept your payment. Secure URLs start with https:// (rather than http://) and feature a lock icon in the browser bar. If these elements are missing, then you should not enter your credit card information. (See also: 3 Ways Millennials Can Avoid Financial Fraud)

Daily practices that keep you safe

In addition to these precautions, you can also protect your credit cards with the everyday choices you make. For instance, using strong, unique passwords for all of your online financial services, from shopping to banking, can help you prevent theft. Keeping those strong passwords safe — that is, not written down on a post-it note on your laptop — will also help protect your financial information.

Regularly going over your credit card and banking statements can also help ensure that you’re the only one making purchases with your credit cards. It was this daily habit of mine that made sure my scammers didn’t actually receive the computer they tried to purchase with my credit card. The fact that I check my balance daily meant I was able to shut down the fraudulent sale before they received the goods, even though I fell down on the job of protecting my credit card information. 

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Source: wisebread.com

Don’t Get Tricked: Identity Protection Tips You Need

A woman sits on a gray couch with a laptop on her lap, drinking a cup of coffee

The weather is turning, fall is in the air, and Halloween is around the corner—which means it’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. How can you ensure October is full of treats while not falling for any scammers’ tricks? By arming yourself with these identity protection tips.

Every American should understand the basics of identity theft protection. According to the most recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 10% of people 16 and older have been the victim of identity theft. That’s why we’re encouraging people to educate themselves on identity protection tips this autumn. After all, there’s nothing quite as scary as identity fraud!

Here are some identity theft tricks to watch out for and identity security treats to take advantage of.

Trick: Using Your Data to Open New Accounts

According to the FTC, credit card fraud—including opening new credit card accounts—was the most commonly reported form of identity theft in 2019. Thieves can rack up hundreds of dollars’ worth of bills before you know it happened.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to your cybersecurity to avoid your data being used to open new accounts in your name:

  • Never use the same password across multiple accounts. Switch your passwords up.
  • Never use a password that’s easy to guess. This includes passwords that include your birthday, first or last name, or address.
  • Use passwords that are random combinations of numbers, letters, and symbols.
  • Enable two-factor authentication whenever it’s offered.
  • Don’t share or write down your passwords.
  • Never click on unknown email links or pop-ups on websites.
  • Make sure websites are secure before entering your payment information.
  • Never connect to public Wi-Fi that isn’t secure.
  • Never walk away from your laptop in public places.
  • Enable firewall protection.
  • Monitor your accounts and credit reports for unusual activity.

Treat: Check Your Credit Reports

Identity theft protection starts by being proactive and regularly monitoring your information for suspicious activity. That includes monitoring your credit report.

Did you know that you’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report each year from all three credit reporting agencies? In honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, make October the month that you request your reports and go over them with a fine-toothed comb. Make sure you recognize all the open accounts under your name.

[Note: Through April 2021, you can review your credit reports weekly.]

An added bonus of checking your reports early in the month is that you can give your credit a good once-over before the upcoming holiday shopping season. Unexplained dips in your credit score could be a sign that something is wrong.

When you request your free credit report from the credit bureaus, your report does not come with your credit score—you have to request that separately. Sign up for ExtraCredit to get 28 of your FICO® scores and your credit reports from all three credit bureaus. You’ll also get account monitoring and $1 million identity theft insurance.

Protect Your Identity with ExtraCredit

Trick: Charity Fraud

October also happens to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and everywhere you look, pink is on display. With so much national attention on breast cancer, it’s easy to fall for scams that claim to be legitimate charities.

Consumers should also be on the lookout for phony COVID-19 related scams this fall and winter. For example, watch out for fake charities that pretend to provide COVID relief to groups or families but are simply stealing money.

Even worse than handing over money to these heartless fraudsters is that you may have handed over your credit card numbers or other personally identifiable information in the process.

Treat: Know Your Worthy Causes

Before donating to a charitable cause, do your homework. You can use websites such as Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance to check a charity’s reputation. Additionally, consider contacting your state’s charity regulator to confirm the organization is registered to raise money in your state.

After you’ve verified the status of the charity, consider making donations directly through the national organization. Avoid giving money or financial information directly to someone that reaches out to you through email, phone calls, or door-to-door interactions.

It might be a bit of extra work, but at the end of the day, you can feel good knowing your money is going to support a real cause. If you want to support October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, consider donating directly on the national website. An added bonus is that you’ll receive a receipt you can use for tax deduction purposes.

Trick: Tax Refund Fraud

Every year, the Internal Revenue Service announces its “dirty dozen” scams. These are the tax fraud scams the IRS determines to be the most common for the year. The 2020 list includes refund theft. A tax thief gains access to your information, files a fraudulent return in your name before you do, and has the funds paid out them. The only way you find out about it is that your legitimate tax return—the one you submit—is rejected for having already been filed.

Another way individuals fall victim to tax refund fraud is by using an unscrupulous return vendor. Dishonest vendors and ghost preparers steal personal information to file a tax refund and pocket the money or use that information for other types of identity fraud.

It’s unclear what exactly the next round of stimulus legislation will include, but if another stimulus check is included, watch out for attempts to steal your COVID stimulus checks. Remember that the IRS never contacts you via email, social media, or text.

Treat: File Early

It may feel like you just finished filing your 2019 taxes, but it’s never too early to start preparing for next year. While filing your taxes might be the last thing you want to think about this month, it’s crucial to stay on top of your tax return documents so you’re ready to file as early as possible. This is especially true for individuals who have reason to believe that their personal data has already been breached.

Always ensure you work with a reputable tax return vendor. You can look at the vendor’s online reviews before considering them as an option for tax return help.

Additionally, individuals that are paid to assist with or prepare federal tax returns must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Paid preparers must sign and include their PTIN on returns. Always ask for this number before you hire an individual and hand over your personal information.

If you file early, you can beat out someone filing before you and receiving your return first. The earliest you can file is January.

Trick: Social Media Scams

Our social media accounts allow us to stay connected with friends and family. Unfortunately, scammers understand this and have started using social media to commit identity fraud.

There are many variations of social media phishing scams, but the basics are generally that a scammer creates an account to gain your trust and gather personal information from you. For example, many people have their name, birthday, and workplace information on their Facebook or other social media account. Those three things alone could be enough for someone to gain everything else they need to create a credit card application under your name or access your existing accounts.

Treat: Be More Exclusive and Private

Consider taking a quiet October morning to comb through your social media accounts. Start with your followers. Consider deleting everyone you don’t know personally.

If a follower base is important to you, consider another approach. Go through each social profile and scrub any personal details. Change the spelling of your last name slightly, delete your birthday, and remove other personal information, such as place of work. Ultimately, this can reduce the risk of being an easy target for identity fraud.

These core identity protection tips should help you stay safer online. With COVID-19 causing people to feel scared, individuals are more vulnerable to being tricked. Remember that identity fraud happens to millions of people every year, and it’s important to remain vigilant.

Stay Vigilant This Fall

Identity theft can have long-lasting consequences. If you’re recovering from identity fraud or simply unhappy with your credit score, consider signing up for ExtraCredit. ExtraCredit is a five-in-one credit product that provides tools to helps you build, guard, track, reward, and restore your credit.

Sign Up Now

The post Don’t Get Tricked: Identity Protection Tips You Need appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

Expert Home Security Tips and Tricks

Expert Home Security Tips and Tricks

Purchasing, updating, and decorating your home was a big investment. It is your family’s refuge and holds both treasured memories and valued possessions: in short, all things that you want to protect. We talked with several security experts to discover and share their top tips for home protection.

Their advice was varied, but they all agreed that using a smart combination of the right tools, techniques, and safety measures is the key to protecting your home and family. And you might even save a bit of money in the long run!

First Line of Defense: Securing Your Home Exterior

The first step in improving your household safety is to evaluate the exterior of your home. If burglars or other criminals can’t get into your home, they can’t do much damage. This is why taking a look at access points like your doors and windows is essential.

Roman Zrazhevskiy is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ready to Go Survival, a company that creates custom survival kits. As a former EMT and lifelong outdoorsman, Zrazhevskiy understands the connection between facility security and your personal safety. He says the best place to start updating your home security is with the exterior doors to your home. Here are his key points:

  • First, replace all the doors with solid wood or steel doors, and install high-quality deadbolt locks.
  • Ensure the door frames are made of steel or have steel supports for the door, and that all door hardware is a minimum of three inches long. You can also install a steel bar on the inside that can be closed if needed.
  • A great product that helps secure your doors is called the Door Sentinel. It comes with all the hardware to reinforce your exterior door so it will be much more difficult to break into.

Identity theft expert, author, and speaker Robert Siciliano covers all aspects of security as they relate to violence and fraud prevention in both the physical and virtual worlds. Here are his top home security tips for way that you can use your doors, windows, and even your landscaping to keep you and your family safe.

  • Make sure nobody can see inside your windows at night, and be choosy about which drapes to leave open during the day, especially if you have expensive items that can be viewed through windows.
  • Keep your shrubs and trees manicured so that burglars can’t hide near them.
  • Do a door and lock inventory to make sure they all work—the only time a door should be unlocked is when someone is using it.
  • The only time a window should be unlocked is when it’s open while you’re home, and even then, be extremely judicious about this, including for second-story windows that can be climbed up to.

Quick and Easy Home Security Tips

There are also many quick, simple, and inexpensive ways that you can keep your home safe that won’t break the bank, including a few tips for home security while on vacation. Siciliano further suggests these three inexpensive, easy, and creative ideas.

  • When traveling for long stretches, arrange to have someone mow your lawn and park their car in your driveway.
  • Get a beware of dog sign even if you don’t have a dog. Get a big dog food bowl. Place it near your front door.
  • Go to an Army/Navy store and get a pair of men’s boots, put them near your front or back door.

Justin Lavelle is the Chief Communications Officer for BeenVerified, a leading source of online background checks and contact information. Lavelle encourages you to make a few easy, little or no cost changes to your home (and your habits) that can protect you and your family.

The lived-in look is a great deterrent. Many hardware stores sell timers that can run lights in your house. These can be lamps or hardwired fixtures. These timers are easily installed as a do-it-yourself project. It is recommended that you have outdoor lights timed as well. You can set lights inside and out to come on at different times during the evening and morning, giving your home an occupied look even if you are gone. Keep a car in the driveway if possible and keep the radio on. Be sure you remove your mail and any newspapers dropped off on a daily basis.

A big billboard that says you are not home is unattended packages. If you are gone all day at work, consider sending your packages to a trusted neighbor you know will be home during the day. You can also have packages shipped to a P.O. Box and pick them up at your post office. Another option is to have items shipped to the nearest brick and mortar location and pick them up there in the evening or [on the] weekend.

Smart Tech to Keep Your Home Safe

Now that you have considered the physical and structural aspects of home security, it’s time to think about ways that digital and virtual tools can help you. Rob Caiello, Vice President of Marketing at Allconnect, helps movers with the purchase and setup of home utilities and services, including finding the right home security system and service. As a security system expert, he encourages all homeowners to take a look at the new technologies available.

Home security systems aren’t what they used to be. With the explosion of home technology, home security systems have gotten much smarter. With smart home security systems, you can receive real time alerts to your smartphone if an emergency takes place in your home. Plus, you can also receive texts or email notifications about potential security threats, like a window or door left open for too long.

These systems often require an initial up-front investment, but the benefits of peace of mind are priceless. Plus, adding monitored safety and security devices can often help homeowners dramatically lower their home insurance premiums. As a final security and technology tip, don’t post your vacation plans on social media: You don’t want the world to know your home will be left unwatched.

New technology has made everything from public data collection to home security quicker, simpler, and more affordable. If your finances are tight, you might consider a cash-out refinance to obtain the funds for security upgrades. Lavelle also encourages homeowners to look into both traditional security system, as well as new tools like web-based digital intercom systems.

It used to be expensive to have a security system installed, but today many DIY kits are available that work with your home’s internet wifi for connectivity. Some will provide monitoring services and some will allow you to be notified on your smartphone if there is an intrusion detected. Google the many options that are available to find a system that fits your needs and budget. If nothing else, install a camera prop above your front door and other entrance areas. It will deter most burglars.

Unfortunately we live in a world where opening your front door may be dangerous for you and your family. Camera intercom systems used to be cost prohibitive for many residential applications, but today with internet wifi, smartphones, and small digital cameras, having the ability to answer your door without actually opening it is a reality. There are even systems that allow you to appear to be home and answer the door when you are halfway around the world.

Don’t Let Your Castle Be Compromised

Whether you are in town or away on vacation, the world is an unpredictable place so it’s important to take precautions to safeguard your home—your castle. From digital solutions to simple DIY steps, there are many means to bolster protection for every house on any budget. Contact a PennyMac Loan Officer to explore the refinancing options to fund security upgrades for your home.

The views, information, or opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent those of PennyMac Loan Services, LLC and its employees.

Source: pennymacusa.com

FHA Loan Requirements – Guideline & Limits

FHA loan requirements are simple; they’re different than conventional loan requirements. For a conventional loan, for example, you will need a good credit score. However a FHA loan credit score is only 580.

If you’re a first time home buyer and need a first time home buyer loan to purchase your dream home, then keep reading to find out how an FHA loan is right for you.

Click here to compare the rates if you’re thinking of applying for an FHA loan. It’s totally FREE.

In this article, we will cover several topics around the FHA loan requirements. As a first time home buyer, you will need to be aware of these requirements so that your home-buying process can go as smoothly as possible.

Here’s what we will cover: FHA loan limits, FHA loan rates, FHA loan credit score, FHA lenders, and so many others. In addition, we will address the difference between conventional loan requirements versus FHA loan requirements.

Click here to apply for a FHA loan.

FHA Loan Requirements – Guideline & Limits:

Buying a house through an FHA loan, while exciting, can be daunting, especially as a first time home buyer. Taking a few moments to familiarize yourself with the FHA loan requirements can save you from costly mistakes during the home buying process. Below is an overview of FHA loan process

FHA loan definition

What is an FHA loan? Simply stated, an FHA loan is a loan that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration. These type of loan are popular among first time home buyers because they allow them to put as low as 3.5% down payment and require a very low credit score.

So if you’re a first time home buyer with a bad credit, then an FHA loan makes more sense.


Feeling Overwhelmed With Your Finances?, You have options and there are steps you can take yourself. But if you feel you need a bit more guidance, simply speak with a financial advisorSmartAsset’s free tool matches you with fiduciary advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you are ready to meet your goals, get started with Smart Asset today.


FHA loan limits

FHA loan limits refers to the maximum amount of loan the FHA will give you. For 2019, for example, in low cost areas, FHA loan requirements have been set in place allowing the maximum amount for a single family home to be $314, 827. Whereas for a four-plex, the maximum amount is $605,525.

FHA loan limits – low cost areas
Single Duplex Triplex Fourplex
$314,827 $403,125 $487,250 $605,525

 

For high cost areas, the FHA loan limits for a single family home is $726, 525 and for a duplex, the FHA limit is $930, 300. Those limits, of course vary depending on your states and they are update annually. So visit your state to determine what the FHA mortgage lending limits are.

FHA loan limits – high cost areas
Single Duplex Triplex Fourplex
$726,525 $930,300 $1,124,475 $1,397,400

Click here to compare current FHA loan mortgage rates

FHA loan vs conventional

When it comes to get a home loan for presumably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make in your life, you certainly have to know the key differences between an FHA loan and a conventional loan. While it’s easier to get approved for an FHA loan, it’s important so that you can make the best decisions.

FHA loan requirements

fha loan requirements
FHA credit score loan requirement

The FHA loan requirements are fairly simple and straightforward. Here’s what they require: 1) You must have a credit score of at least 580.

2) A 3.5% down payment is required. (*note, if your FICO score is between 500 and 579, then you will have to put 10% down payment). 3) You will have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI);

4) Your debt to income ratio must be < 43%. Your debt to income ratio is the percentage of your income that you spend on debt, including mortgage, car loan, student debt, etc..

5) The home you intend to purchase must be your primary residence. You must also occupy the property within 60 days of closing.

Click here to shop for FHA mortgage rates in your area

It can’t be an investment property. However, you can buy a duplex or triplex, live in one unit and rent the other units. As long as you reside in the property, you will satisfy that requirement. Also, the house must meet FHA loan limits (see above).

6) Finally, and of course, you must have a steady income and proof of employment. I will discuss later whether a FHA loan is better than a conventional loan. For more information about FHA loan requirements in general, visit the FHA website.

Conventional loan requirements

The requirements for a conventional loan, however, are much stricter. By the way a conventional loan or traditional loan is not insured by the Federal Housing Administration. But instead it is guaranteed by a private lender such as a bank, credit union, mortgage companies, etc…

Of course whether you will qualify for a conventional loan vary from lenders to lenders, but the following are required:

1) A credit score of at least 680 (of course the higher the score is, the more likely you will get qualified, and the lower your interest rate on the loan will be.

2) A down payment of at least 20% of the house purchase price. If you have less than 20%, you still can get the loan. But the problem is, you will have to take out private mortgage insurance, pay its premiums until you achieve at least 20% equity in the house.

3) Your debt to income ratio needs to be around 36% and no more than 43%.

Should you apply for an FHA loan or conventional loan?

As you can see above, the FHA loan requirements are less strict than the conventional loan requirements. However, which one you choose to apply to depends on your personal circumstances.

But if you are a first time home buyer, there are a lot of good reasons why an FHA loan would seem more appealing to you. For one, the down payment is only 3.5% (compare that with a 20% down payment a conventional loan requires). A down payment is the upfront money you need to to make when buying a home.

As a first time home buyer, saving for a 20% down payment on a house can be a big burden. Homes are expensive. For example, saving for $450,000 home can take you years to accomplish, especially if you have other debt like student debt, credit card debt, car loan, etc… So a 3.5% down payment makes it easier for you to buy your own home.

Second, the FHA loan credit score is only 580. Although, you should always take steps to raise your credit score, sometimes certain changes in your life may leave you with a low credit score. Perhaps, you had to file for bankruptcy which resulted in a low credit score.

Or maybe you never had a credit card, which means that you don’t have an established credit history. Or maybe you’re a victim of identity theft which lowered your credit score. So there are several reasons why you could have a low credit score.

However, that shouldn’t mean you can’t buy a house. That’s why the FHA loan requirements make it easier for folks who otherwise would not have been qualified for a conventional loan.

Related Articles:

5 Signs You’re Not Ready To Buy A House

The Biggest Mistakes Millennials Make When Buying a House

How Much House Can I afford

Buy a home with the Right Financial Advisor

You can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals. Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.

The post FHA Loan Requirements – Guideline & Limits appeared first on GrowthRapidly.

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Securing Credit Card Processing for Your Small Business

A small business owner stands in front of a teal door holding an open sign.

Opening a business is a major undertaking regardless of industry. Whether it’s your first business or your one-hundred-and-first, it’s a big deal. That’s why it’s important you remember to dot your i’s and cross your t’s before launching your business to the public—especially when it comes to your credit card processing.

If you own a small business in this day and age, you will need a way to process payments in person and online. Depending on your business and industry, one payment option might be more beneficial for you. For example, if you’re looking to launch a completely online business, you won’t have any need for a physical payment terminal. However, there are some things every businessowner should know about securing credit card processing for your small business.

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Credit Card Processing for Your Business

To secure credit card processing for your small business, you will need to find the right payment merchant services provider who will sign you up for a merchant account. Once you have this vital payment tool, you will be connected to a processor and the agreements of your service can be written up according to your business needs.

One issue new businesses often run into when finding a processor is their perceived risk. Big banks are likely unwilling or unable to give merchant accounts to first-time businessowners because they are considered “high risk.” Beyond being a new businessowner, there are other reasons services are denied, including bad credit, high chargeback ratio, or business type.

Despite the fact that it may be difficult to find a payment processor who can accommodate your business needs, there are plenty of processors with high-risk merchant services available. In fact, these providers may be easier to work with since they see similar cases on a more regular basis.

Find a Business Credit CardThat Works for You

Finding the Right Processor for You

You’ll want to find a payment processor who has a good relationship with banks that support your industry and are comfortable with your business model.

A payment processor that offers or specializes in high-risk merchant services will have different features than a tier-one bank. These features, like chargeback mitigation and fraud protection, can help protect your business and accommodate your customers’ unique needs.

Partnering with a payment processor you trust will be essential to maximize your business opportunities and find a solution that works for you. For example, the right processor can get you set up with a virtual terminal. A virtual terminal is an online tool that processes credit cards online. This will allow you to take payments in person, online, and over the phone. The flexibility of the different payment options will be invaluable to your business because you’ll be able to reach a larger customer base and expand your income streams.

Steps to Bolster Your Business After Securing Your Merchant Account

It might take some time to compare all of the available merchant services providers available to you, as each will have different rates and unique features. After you’ve found the right payment processor for you, here are some steps you can take to make sure your expanded capabilities will drive your business’s growth.

Step 1: Utilize features unique to your payment processor

Processing online payments opens your business up to a whole new side of fraud risk, so you’ll want to be prepared. Features like chargeback mitigation and fraud protection can help your business meet its individual needs.

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Step 2: Optimize your website to support a payment gateway and increased volume

Once you’re able to take payments online, you’ll be able to serve a much larger number of customers and can begin to expand your infrastructure to suit their needs. You’ll want to make sure your website can support this increase in traffic and capacity.

Step 3: Keep abreast of state regulations

Depending on the industry your business belongs to, there may be specific qualifications you must aware of to conduct business. Each state has its own set of regulations businesses must comply with, so make sure you are up to date with the laws in your area. Utilize official resources to ensure your business is following protocol.

Step 4: Employ best practices for your industry

Each industry comes with its own best practices and specific measures to take. However, there are many general best practices you should be aware of before proceeding.

For example, record keeping is a highly overlooked practice for new business owners. However, it’s vital to keep all your records in order to minimize fraud, miscommunication, etc. This can be done by keeping your finances, workflow, and customer data organized and secure. The right financial services software can help you do this all in one place.

Final Thoughts

For small businesses, securing credit card processing is instrumental in maximizing your business opportunity. It’s also crucial to keeping you and your customers’ data secure. Without the right payment processor, your business could be at risk for fraud, data breaches, or interrupted service due to an unauthorized merchant account.

Whether you’re starting a retail business or turning to the internet, every business needs the ability to process credit cards and payments. Find the right merchant services provider for you and take the first step toward maximizing your business’s potential.


Allison Eilhardt is a writer based in Los Angeles, CA. She has been writing professionally for over five years, covering topics ranging from charities and social events to intricate finance spotlights. Allison is currently the Director of Content at PaymentCloud, a merchant services provider that offers hard-to-place solutions for business owners across the nation.

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