As the holiday season comes to a close and you begin reviewing your success, it may also be a good time to assess your vulnerability to fraud so you can prepare for the next big sales season. The hustle and bustle that overtakes your business during the holidays may be what keeps you afloat during slower months. At the same time, you may be wondering if you are more likely to become the victim of fraud and other kinds of data breaches during the busiest times of the year.
‘Tis the Season for Temps
Do you hire extra help during the holidays? If you do, you may be opening yourself up to problems, particularly if you rush through the application process because of time constraints and fail to perform a full background check. Even many employment agencies are less than rigorous when it comes to vetting their workers. Taking steps to make these inquiries yourself can save you a lot of grief later.
Stress at the Register
When you or one of your employees is behind the counter taking customer payments, stress levels can go through the roof. The longer the lines and the more demanding the customers, the more likely you are to want to cut corners. For instance, you might forego your usual scruples about asking for identification when someone provides an unsigned credit card. As a result, you leave yourself and your business vulnerable to the possibility of costly fraud.
Not Accepting EMV Cards
There are many reasons why merchants have been slow in upgrading their equipment to accept the chip cards that are becoming the standard in the U.S. While these EMV chip cards are not perfect, they do allow for an encrypted payment that you as the merchant never see or access. This protects you to a great extent against criminal practices such as card cloning, wherein one of your staff could quickly copy the information on the card’s magnetic stripe for their own illegal use.
During the holidays and other times of the year when activity levels are high and distractions abound, it is even easier for these destructive behaviors to go on under your very nose. Worse still, you will be responsible to pay for the cost of the fraud now that EMV cards have gained prominence. If you haven’t already, it is definitely in your best interest to upgrade your credit card processing equipment to accept EMV chip cards.
Protect Your E-Commerce Site
As in-store data breaches decline due to the presence of EMV cards, fraudsters are increasingly trolling the Internet to do their thievery. Protect your e-commerce site by selecting an e-commerce platform that will offer risk management support that can be a lifesaver if you are the victim of fraud. Audit your current site to verify that it is secure, and spend the money to obtain a software system that alerts you to suspicious activity on your website as soon as it happens. Finally, store as little customer data as possible. Criminals cannot steal what isn’t there.
The holidays are a time filled with high energy, expanded sales, some anxiety and hopefully a healthy helping of joy. If you take preventive action to ensure your staff is well-trained and reputable, your credit card transactions are secure, and your equipment is upgraded, you can maximize your success and minimize your stress. That’s the optimal way to finish out the year and prepare yourself for more prosperity in the future.