How do I Choose the Most Secure Merchant Account?

Marsha A. Tisdale

One of the best ways to choose the most secure merchant account is to study the security procedures and authorization protocols. Security is paramount, not only for the merchant accepting credit cards, but for the customers as well. The protocol that should be used for online merchants is the Secure Sockets Layer Protocol (SSL). It ensures that any data sent or received in the system is encrypted.

Customers can determine if a website is secure if the web address begins with "https."
Customers can determine if a website is secure if the web address begins with "https."

Appropriate security and data encryption will also provide for protection against fraud. The firm offering a secure merchant account will provide the business person with a support system to avoid such things as charge backs or employee misuse of the credit card machine. In addition, the business owner should have all options explained prior to signing up for an account.

It is important to have a secure merchant account that will guard against identity theft. Authentication services and identity verification are elements of a good merchant account. Using the SSL protocol will provide security and allow compatibility with web browsers for those businesses selling on the internet without requiring additional software. Customers will recognize the site is secure when they see the https in the address window.

The next factor in deciding on a secure merchant account is the cost involved in running it. There will be a fee for each transaction as well as a monthly rental of the machine. Monthly fees will vary depending on the amount of the flat fee and the percentage charged on sales.

Comparison sites are available that allow businesses to look at several different credit card processing companies and the fees involved with each. Visa and MasterCard have also developed technology to augment security with their verification methods. The method uses a three-digit code to allow businesses to verify if a customer is using a valid credit card. This code is on the back of every Visa and MasterCard card.

Businesses can set up a secure merchant account through a bank. Companies that have been in business longer than two years will find it easier to obtain an account through a bank than companies that have been in business for less time. If a bank will not set up an account, a business can contact one of the independent sales organizations (ISOs) that have been authorized by Visa and MasterCard to offer these types of accounts. They are not under as much regulation as banks are and will charge higher fees.

A business can have more confidence in the choice of secure merchant account by searching the Internet for available accounts and contacting several before deciding. Asking other companies that use such accounts will also help. It is also helpful to check with the Better Business Bureau before making any final decision.

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