Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent Visa sponsored interview with Anita Campbell, @SmallBizTrends. Anita is a business expert and the CEO and publisher of Small Business Trends and its associate publications and communities. She is a former corporate attorney and General Counsel and has been featured on Forbes lists including “20 Best-Branded Women on Twitter” and “30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter.”
SmallBizLady: What are some major data security concerns for small business owners?
Anita Campbell: Many small business owners who accept credit cards are legitimately concerned with consumer trust – how much trust their customers have in them. Thusly, protecting consumer payment information is paramount to any responsible small business owner. Small business owners are increasingly targets for hackers. We read about it every day; identity theft is rampant and a very real threat to businesses and consumers alike. It’s a constant concern to small business owners that they are doing enough to prevent themselves and their customers’ financial information.
SmallBizLady: What are some steps that small business owners can take to protect consumer data?
Anita Campbell: There are actually a number of things, big and small, that your small business can do to better protect your and your customers’ data. For starters, you should definitely be using a secure wireless connection. This means your wireless connection cannot be accessed by anyone without a password. The credit card information being transmitted should be going through a secure server that encrypts the data.
Also, be sure that your internet protection software is up to date. Use strong passwords with case-sensitive characters, special characters and numbers and be sure to change them regularly. If you outsource at all, thoroughly vet a third party’s security practices. Whenever you download anything, make sure it is coming from a reliable source.
Perhaps the largest, most surefire way to avoid fraud and theft is for small business owners to begin accepting chip cards.
SmallBizLady: How can small business owners begin accepting chip cards?
Anita Campbell: Visa Small Business has some great resources to help your small business get chip-ready. To get started, check out the Visa Small Business Toolkit. Once you’ve familiarized yourself and are comfortable with the basics of chip technology, contact your acquirer or credit card processor for more information on upgrading your technology.
SmallBizLady: Why is it so important for small business owners to start accepting chip cards now?
Anita Campbell: There are two very significant reasons for doing this:
First of all, chip card technology is simply more secure. It protects you and your business more thoroughly from theft and fraud.
Secondly, small businesses that do not, or cannot, accept chip cards may be held responsible for counterfeit fraud beginning on October 1 of this year. This could mean that if you are the victim of a counterfeit payment or a payment is fraudulently used for your goods or services, you could be responsible for the losses accrued. Also, as business owners begin accept chip card, those who do not will begin to become the prime targets of hackers and credit card fraud.
SmallBizLady: How do the new chip cards benefit small business owners and their customers?
Anita Campbell: Investing in updated, more secure payment processing systems shows your customers that you care about their financial and identity safety. In turn, making the switch to updated payment processing systems can also help to enhance your brand.
Investing in new chip technology can also help pave the way for mobile and digital commerce that gives your customers more options.
Most importantly, new security feature provided by chip cards will help to create peace of mind for cardholders and customers alike.
SmallBizLady: What does new chip technology mean for my online business?
Anita Campbell: If you have an online storefront, you should prepare for a possible shift towards “card not present” fraud. Be proactive by reaching out to your acquirer or payment processor about the steps you need to take to protect your business online.
SmallBizLady: How does the experience of using a card change with new chip technology?
Anita Campbell: It’s actually very simple!
Instead of swiping a credit card’s magnetic strip, the card will be inserted into the credit card terminal, chip side facing up. The card will be left inside the terminal for the entire transaction. From here on out it’s a very simple process. You will just direct the customer to follow the onscreen prompts in order to complete the transaction. Just don’t forget to remove the card following the transaction!
Use the Visa Small Business toolkit to help prepare your employees to begin processing chip cards. You can also check out this video from Visa Small Business to see exactly how the new transactions will work!
SmallBizLady: What does the liability shift mean for my small business?
Anita Campbell: Remember: Starting on October 1 of this year, small businesses that cannot or do not accept chip cards may be liable for counterfeit fraud. Also, keep in mind that chip card technology isn’t required.
The member of the transaction (bank, merchant, customer) with the lowest level of security will be the person liable for the transaction. For example, if you process a payment for a customer who uses a magnetic strip card, the customer is liable for fraud in that transaction – not you.
SmallBizLady: Are there other technologies that help keep transactions safe?
Anita Campbell: Yes! New technologies are always being developed. The goal is to stay ahead of fraudsters. Ask for information from your acquirer or processor on tokenization and end-to-end encryption as measures to protect your small business.
SmallBizLady: Does the EMV chip liability shift apply to e-commerce transactions also?
Anita Campbell: The EMV chip liability shift will apply to any “card present” transactions which will all be entirely at brick and mortar storefronts.
However, e-commerce providers still must address security! Ensure that your systems and data are secure. Always verify the card’s security code. For more security tips, visit http://vi.sa/1FdaTGA.
SmallBizLady: What else should small business owners do to prepare for the October 1 #chipready kickoff date?
Anita Campbell: You should definitely speak to your staff about EMV chip payments ahead of time. Explain what it is and why you’re business will be adopting the new, more secure payment-processing system. Handling a chip card transaction is not difficult to learn, but don’t leave it up to chance.
Once you’ve covered the basics with your staff, hold an employee training session. Ask them to take the staff training quiz.
SmallBizLady: How can I learn more about chip technology?
Anita Campbell: There are tons of resources out there that provide information about new chip cards! The first place to start is by reaching out to your acquirer or processor. They are great resources to help get your business chip-ready!
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter. Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.