Credit card not present. How does this affect you?

credit cardsBanks are changing the rules. How does this affect you and your business?

One of the hot topics at the recent Motel Association road shows has been that of credit cards and the changes in the way the banks are allowing merchants to process cards.

One of the big problems with credit cards is the amount of theft of card numbers to enable the holder to make many purchases and basically steal money off of the card. It is not the theft of actual cards that has caused the biggest problem but the theft of card numbers from computer systems which has resulted in the largest loss. As a consequence of this the banks have now introduced a thing called PCI compliance. This is the criteria required to be able to store credit card numbers on your computer. If you do not meet the requirements of this you are no longer able to process card not present transactions. The cost of meeting this audit process however is in the tens of thousands of dollars and prohibitive to most motels.

Some new lessees have already had this facility removed from their systems when they purchased a motel business. One motelier is only able to process the credit card once the guest has physically arrived and is currently having to give out their bank account number and ask people to direct credit the deposit. If they have been given a credit card and the guest is a no show there is nothing they can do to debit the card. The debt still remains but the motelier now has to use another option to collect it. This makes for a very inefficient way to run a motel business.

What does this mean to you as a moteliers?

Firstly check with your property management system that they are compliant. If they say they are then ask them for a copy of their compliance certificate. Essentially if a credit card is used for fraud and it can be traced back to having come from your computer you can be held liable for the debt. Ensure that you can prove you took steps to become compliant and avoid being the scapegoat.

Secondly if your property management system is not compliant then to avoid not meeting the criteria for storing the credit cards on your computer you can store them somewhere else. For example you can write the card number down and store them in a safe or use a separate hard drive which is disconnected from your internet computer and store this in your safe. Other options for card not present transactions can be to use the old fashioned zipzap machine. This can be used by manually writing the credit card number in and then taking to the bank. Some banks will process this but some will not. Another option can be to discuss with your bank an option of using the banks secure site to process cards. Some banks have a site which you can use instead of an eftpos machine so this may work for you.

If you still have the ability to do card not present transactions then just carry on as is but be aware that the issue may arise in the future for you. As it is obviously going to impact on many areas there will no doubt be some other options which will be introduced in the future and hopefully this will happen before your business is impacted by the fact you cannot do card not present transactions.