September 7, 2017, 12:01 pm

Key Ways to Protect Your Small Business From Online Fraud

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business
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As a small-business owner, you no doubt already realize the importance of trading online, whether you run a specific e-commerce venture or allow customers to order goods or services and make payments online. These days, technology means that online transactions can save businesses time and money; allow them to make more sales; and broaden trading from a local location to anywhere around the world.

However, with all these (and other) benefits, comes some risks, too. Hackers continually find new ways to break into business accounts for sensitive financial and personal data, to crash systems, and to hold information for ransom. In addition, businesses happen to be liable for the fraudulent charges which are transacted on stolen or otherwise comprised credit cards, which can potentially cost thousands of dollars every year.

To protect your business from these risks, it is important to do everything you can to avoid online fraud. Read on for some key ways you can go about doing this today.

Use a Secure Payment Processing Firm

One of the first steps is to ensure you use a secure payment processing firm to handle your credit and debit card and other transactions. By utilizing a trusted merchant services solution, you can outsource the payment process and take advantages of the many checks and balances involved in these types of digital transactions. This also means you won’t have to handle or store customers’ financial data either.

When selecting a payment provider, ask firms about the security measures they have in place to protect the details of the businesses signed up with them, and their customers. Typically, you’ll find the most secure merchant services companies boast hard-to-hack, complex encryption algorithms, and make sure all data transmitted between consumers, businesses, banks, and their firm is encrypted.

Payment processing providers with a strong commitment to security will also use numerous security protocols, including CVV2 verifications; provide support for the most comprehensive SSL certificates; and have very tight restrictions in place on how data is stored and sent via the internet.

In addition, many merchant services firms will restrict any payments coming in from countries with a reputation for excessive online fraud. They will also have strategies in place to pick up on likely fraudulent activity, and will let their clients know about flagged transactions so orders can be canceled, or more information request from the customer to verify credibility.


Be Aware of the Common Types of Scams

Next, protect your company from online fraud by being aware of the most common types of scams used by cybercriminals. When you know the methods used most often, you will be more likely to be aware of something suspicious, and will be able to teach your staff members what to be on the lookout for as well.

One of the key things to be wary of is opening emails, attachments, or links sent to you by people you don’t know, or of messages purporting to be from real companies or contacts but that seem a little off. Fraudulent messages may get you to provide details to hackers that allow them to plant a virus, crash your system, login to your accounts, or otherwise cause havoc.

In particular, one of the most frequent hacker strategies that works is phishing. With this type of attack, you will be sent an email or other message that is designed to look legitimately like it has come from a bank, telecommunications firm, social media site, or other large firm. Hackers try to make it seem that the communication has come from a company you might deal with regularly, by using copied logos, design, and even similar language.

Within the message will be a form you’re told must be filled in with your sensitive data and sent back, or a link to click on to take you to a website where you need to login and complete some action. Once you have inputted your sensitive information though, hackers have the information they need to commit fraud and cause damage.

To avoid this, be on the lookout for signs that messages are fake (such as sloppy design, misspelled words, strange email addresses); and only ever type in the URL of a website that you want to login to directly, rather than getting to a site from a link.

Ensure Your Computers and Website Are Protected

Lastly, there are simple yet effective steps you can take to protect your computers and website from hackers and scammers. For instance, make sure you install security software and firewalls on all the computers used within your company, as these act as a key defense against people trying to break in.

You should also talk to your IT provider or website software system team about securing your website from prying eyes; and ensure that comprehensive passwords are used on all devices used and sites logged into. Don’t forget to keep software and systems updated at all times, too, as the latest versions will likely fix potential bugs and security gaps.

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