November 2011

Transactions Make The World Go ‘Round

At Vision Payment Solutions, we like to keep our clientele – merchants just like you – educated and informed about all steps of card processing. Today, we’re featuring a general overview of a typical transaction; from start to finish, you can now better understand – and, we hope, manage – your card transactions wisely and efficiently!

So, what does a typical transaction look like? If you’re new to the world of merchant accounts or credit card processing, you may not be familiar with all the steps involved any more than the average consumer whipping out his or her plastic and plunking it on to the counter, but here they are in clear detail.

Authorization: The cardholder presents the card as payment to the merchant and the merchant submits the transaction to the acquirer (acquiring bank). The acquirer verifies the credit card number, the transaction type and the amount with the issuer (card-issuing bank) and reserves that amount of the cardholder’s credit limit for the merchant. An authorization will create an approval code, which is assigned to the merchant ‘s store with the transaction.

Batching: Authorized transactions are stored in “batches,” which are sent to the acquirer. Batches are usually submitted daily, at the end of the business day. If a transaction is not submitted in the batch, the authorization will stay valid for a period determined by the card issuer, after which the held amount will be returned to the cardholder’s available credit. Some transactions may be submitted in the batch without prior authorizations; these are either transactions falling under the merchant’s floor limit or transactions in which the authorization was unsuccessful, but the merchant still attempts to force the transaction through. This might be the case when the cardholder is not present but owes the merchant additional money, such as extending a hotel stay.

Clearing & Settlement: The acquirer sends the batch transactions through the credit card association, which debits the issuers for payment and credits the acquirer. Essentially, the issuer pays the acquirer for the transaction.

Funding: Once the acquirer has been paid, the acquirer pays the merchant. The merchant receives the amount totaling the funds in the batch minus either the discount rate, mid-qualified rate, or non-qualified rate, which are tiers of fees the merchant pays the acquirer for processing the transactions.

Chargebacks: A chargeback is when money in a merchant account is held due to a dispute relating to the transaction. Chargebacks are typically initiated by the cardholder. In the event of a chargeback, the issuer returns the transaction to the acquirer for resolution. The acquirer then forwards the chargeback to the merchant, who must either accept the chargeback or contest it.

We hope this brief overview has helped you to better understand the process. Vision Payment Solutions offers comprehensive, full-service card processing technologies and customer support – just in case you have trouble along the way. If you are interested in setting up a merchant account with us, simply click “Apply Now” toward the top right of the page, and you will be directed to our application form.

 

An Introduction to Personally Identifiable Information

Personally Identifiable Information, known as PII for short, includes your customers’ highly valuable, extremely sensitive, and very important personal data. This could all include a customer’s name, address, driver’s license number, credit card number, and – above all else – social security number. If you are in business of any kind, you will routinely collect PII on a daily basis.

Because identity theft is the primary concern among most American consumers, it is crucial that you, as a business owner, retain this information privately, securely, and confidentially. If, however, this data somehow gets stolen, the thieves are likely to use it for identity theft or other kinds of illegal activities. If you are a merchant, you are required by both federal and state laws to protect your customers’ PII. Misplaced, lost, or known-stolen PII must be reported to the authorities immediately. Do you have a strategy for managing the Personally Identifiable Information that your business accrues?

The ramifications of a PII theft are indeed very severe. Fines – couple with additional penalties – are humiliating, costly, and often become gossip fodder in the consumer community. The public damage resulting from a PII loss could also cost you credibility, customer loyalty, and therefore, revenue. Additionally, keep in mind that some customers have executed class-action lawsuits against the companies responsible for protecting such data when PII had been exposed. The Epsilon data breach, for instance, displayed millions of people’s PII – from banks to big-name retail stores – to scammers trying to obtain personally identifiable information.

If you think that your customers’ PII may have been stolen, immediately contact your lawyer, who can help you to understand your lawful rights and obligations. Customer Data Watch is, in short, a PII protection and response service that can assist you in addressing the liabilities associated with handling PII. With the exception of only one state in the union, state laws – including laws in additional jurisdictions – mandate particular merchant procedures when PII in your possession are compromised.

If you determine that a breach has happened, or even suspect loss of data, Customer Data Watch can help you in informing the correct entities – government agencies, card brands, etc. – that data has been compromised.

Customer Data Watch services are implemented to assist you in reacting efficiently to a breach. When your customers’ valuable personal data is compromised, you can often end up befuddled about what to do to correct the issue. However, as a merchant, you need to prepare to act quickly to comply with related laws and industry standards, and to maintain your customers’ trust. Should you actually encounter a PII loss, Customer Data Watch can help you take action to respond.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!


This Thanksgiving, we want to send a special “Thank You” out to all of our clients. We know that we are not your only option and we are truly grateful for your business.

We wish you success and happiness through this holiday season.

VPS Offers Financed Equipment Leasing

Vision Payment Solutions (VPS) is pleased to announce its new equipment-leasing customer programs, offering superior financing on our high quality, affordable, and, as some of our clients have raved – irreplaceable – equipment purchases! Discover for yourself today why so many small businesses just like yours finance their purchases through Vision Payment Solutions, the leading provider of merchant account and credit card-processing technology and services.

Through our customer-centered finance program, we can offer simple, fast, and cost-effective financing plans to help businesses get the equipment and technology they need to drive revenue and profits – and the necessary resources not only to survive, but to thrive in our tumultuous, unpredictable economy. Our primary mission is in assisting businesses like yours push revenue, while providing service and value that none of the competitors in our industry can match. When you finance with Vision Payment Solutions, you have an account team devoted to fulfilling all of your financial requirements, while genuinely concerned with the growth of your business.

Just some of our programs’ beneficial features include instant financing – up to $100,000! – with NO financials required; a simple application process with virtually instant turnaround; same-day financing utilizing ClickFund™ e-documents; unparalleled, timely client service; both deferred and seasonal payment programs; finance terms from one to five years; flexibility with regard to your specific needs; as well as a convenient option for adding or upgrading your equipment over time, with a simple, one-page document!

Financing equipment for your business through Vision Payment Solutions is a smart move; the gradual purchase strengthens your financial position by keeping the assets off your balance sheet. All the while, you’ll be accruing accessible cash reserves for those other, unpredictable business needs that arise, especially in these unstable – and uncertain – times!

To find out more about equipment leasing and financing that can help your business grow while having access to needed technology and resources, made possible through Vision Payment Solutions’ customer-tailored programs, or to apply for this unmatched program now, please visit: https://vendor.lendedge.com/Application.aspx?Vendor=VisionPaymentSolutions or simply click on the link under the VPS merchant login page.

 

Today’s Featured Product: The NURIT 2085

Welcome back, dear readers! Because it is essential for every merchant to stay on top of the latest developments in business technology and support, today, I’m launching an entire series completely devoted to the enormous, assorted array of Vision Payment Solutions’ many quality hardware products – specifically focusing on our best selling card-processing terminals. We hope this technological – and subsequently economical – edification will enable you and other business owners all over the world to familiarize yourselves with current tools and systems for the continuous streamlining – and overall improvement – of the way your business… takes care of business.

This first installment of our Featured Product series today is The NURIT 2085. This processor, a fully integrated POS terminal, is one of the most reliable and easy-to-use credit card machines available. It is a combination credit card machine and printer in one, which allows you to free up valuable counter space. With the fast and quiet built-in thermal printer, you will never have to buy ink or ribbon! The large display screen and easy-access keys make accepting credit cards simple. Exceptionally user friendly and quick, the 2085 is not only high performance, but it’s affordable as well!

With a solid track record, the NURIT 2085 offers fast, secure payment processing. This multi-application terminal supports credits cards, debit cards, smart chip cards, Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), phone cards, gift card applications, and much more! With a sleek, ergonomic, compact design and simple, menu-driven interface, the 2085 allows for programmable LCD soft keys, and hotkeys provide one-touch access custom functions. Additionally, a backlit display gives the user a variety of customizable transaction reports, providing your business with a helpful – as well as cost-saving – accounting business management tool.

The NURIT 2085 continues to rank among Lipman’s most popular and attractive solutions. Employees using it daily appreciate its menu-driven, user-friendly interface. For busy merchants like you, customizable shortcuts make daily operations a piece of cake, as well as easy for new employees to learn. It is ideal for merchants seeking a complete solution at a very reasonable cost.

 

 

 

Chargebacks: A Necessary, But Manageable Evil

As in any other field of human endeavor, economics has its ups and downs, and with the everyday processing of millions of transactions all across the world, most customers and businesses walk away satisfied – each likely feels that the product, service, or funds s/he just obtained are worth the exchange, or else they wouldn’t have initiated the transaction in the first place – at least in a free market where competition can offer everyone other options from which to choose.

However, with adversity in all things, there are times when returns, exchanges, or other forms of rectification are necessary for customer service – an element of business not always the most pleasant, but certainly necessary for maintaining customer loyalty, satisfaction and, consequently, future purchases.

Vision Payment Solutions provides its clientele (merchants just like you) with superior transaction technology and support, as well as education through our website, our representatives, and our blog you’re reading at this moment. Today, we’re addressing the issue of chargebacks, what they mean to you as an entrepreneur, and best practices for managing them.

So, what is a chargeback? All of your customers have the right to dispute a charge to their credit card, especially when products or services are not provided by the agreed-upon time, when goods received are broken, cosmetically deficient, or non-functional, or when the transaction itself was not permitted by the card holder. A chargeback is the return of funds to the customer, implemented by the bank that initially issued the customer’s card. You, the merchant, are given a timeframe to respond to the chargeback request, submit evidence of the sale or the receipt of products or services sold, and receive credit for the original sales amount. This refund, of course, results in your loss of a sale – not something most merchants smile upon. However, there are a few essential ways to manage and prevent chargebacks.

Depending on the way you accept credit cards, there are several actions you can take to prevent your exposure to fraud or related issues, thereby preventing potential chargebacks. Additionally, it is very important, when processing credit card payments, that you accrue proper documentation; in the event a chargeback is initiated, having the proper documentation can assist you in winning the dispute.

If, during the process, the customer’s card is available, be sure to obtain a full magnetic strip read if possible; if the strip is damaged, get a legible, manual imprint. Check that the signature on the receipt matches the signature on the back of the card. Additionally, you should always post all sales policies clearly visible to customers at the cash registers, and even discuss some of the basics of returns and exchanges during their purchase.

If, however, the customer does not have their card with them, or if the initial transaction was online, use the Address Verification Service, only permitting transactions that match perfectly to be refunded. Furthermore, ship only to the card’s billing address, and require a signature upon delivery.

We hope these safety precautions will save you a great deal of financial and professional grief. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about Vision Payment Solutions, the services we provide, or any of our own policies, or if you’d like to acquire a payment solution of your own, get in touch with a VPS representative – by calling (877) 674-2286 – today!

 

VPS: The Complete Answer for Your Business

Of the trillions of dollars in global circulation today, there are all kinds of ways to pay, trade, barter, or otherwise obtain money, products, services, information and even abstract ideas. Wouldn’t it be great to have a unified, consistent, and efficient protocol for processing certain types of payments? Vision Payment Solutions can make it happen. Whether you are a small business in Middle America just needing a way to accept your customers’ credit or debit payments, or an upscale European boutique in need of a little operating capital, VPS has you covered.

Vision Payment Solutions provides a complete range of merchant processing products and services for your business. We enable merchants to accept credit and debit cards, offer a huge assortment of hardware and software terminals (wired and wireless), conceive and implement integrated cash register solutions, and can even fund your business up to $150,000 through our capital funding program. Best of all, a loan from VPS is repaid by way of a percentage of credit and debit card sales automatically, so you don’t have to endure the headache of hours of paperwork, needless phone conversations, and general hassle!

Additionally, VPS rewards you, the merchant, for referring other businesses to our products and services! With generous profit sharing, you can offer your own clients an opportunity for world-class card processing and no monthly check to write. Please look into our Partner program for more information on referrals. With decades of experience in the financial services industry, our dedicated team of professionals will ensure you receive the best possible service at the lowest possible price.

For a free quote from Vision Payment Solutions, don’t hesitate to call us today and see how VPS can improve your business – and your life – for good! One of our friendly representatives is standing by at 1-(877) 674-2286. Make the right choice for yourself and your clientele. Choose Vision Payment Solutions and experience a whole new world of financial services.

 

Financial Safety: 12 Tips to Avoid Credit Card Fraud (Part II)

Last time we left off, we were discussing credit card fraud and the ways to avoid being scammed, ripped off or, for lack of a better word, screwed. We addressed the first six basic principles of card safety, which were, for your review: studying your statements and cross-referencing those statements with receipts; not leaving sensitive data, documents or cards laying around; storage of all records, account numbers, and company contact info; not signing a blank receipt – ever; keeping card receipts for comparison with statements; and signing a new card the moment you get it in your hands.

Without further ado, the remaining six tenets protective of your financial life include:

  1. Keep an eye on your card during checkout, and get it back in your hands as soon as you can.
  2. Report any false or shady charges – ASAP – to your card issuer. The sooner they know, the better.
  3. If you’re about to move into a new home, let your card issuer know your new address, even before you begin the move. Information like this is used to verify your identity, in some cases.
  4. Acquire a lockable mailbox to keep a thief from getting your statements or any other documents containing sensitive data.
  5. Never let anyone borrow your card, even if you trust them. It may not be your loved one who scams you, but rather, a thief who scams him or her.
  6. Avoid divulging any of your card information on the phone or on the web, unless the business is a well known, trusted organization with a secure link. (Look for “https://” instead of the usual “http://” – this indicates a secure, encrypted connection safe for transferring your precious card information.)

If any of your cards were lost or stolen, or if you suspect fraudulent activity, call the card issuers as soon as realistically possible — and don’t put it off. Legally, you carry no accountability for charges you never authorized when you get in touch with the card issuer promptly. Additionally, follow up your complaint by writing – on physical hardcopy – about your situation, never forsaking any detail you feel may be pertinent to the situation.

Vision Payment Solutions wishes you health, happiness, and – in the spirit of our industry – a financially safe and secure holiday season. If you have any other questions related to financial safety, card processing hardware or software, or partnering with VPS, do not hesitate to call (877) 674-2286 today, and speak with one of our friendly, experienced representatives, who are standing by.

 

Financial Safety: 12 Tips to Avoid Credit Card Fraud (Part I)

You hear it all the time. A close friend or relative, the shop around the corner, or even a major corporation, suffering huge loss due to financial fraud – especially in the world of credit cards. When I use the term “credit card,” I am taking the liberty of establishing my own umbrella term, universally referring to credit, debit, cash and gift cards, as well as any other methods of payment vulnerable to scam artists, digital thieves, and even real-world, physical pick-pockets. At VPS, we are dedicated to the safe, authorized, and legal use of such cards, and your best interest is in our best interest.

Fraud of this kind costs cardholders and issuers alike approximately half a billion dollars each year, according to the Dept. of Homeland Security. Direct credit card theft obviously isn’t the only way a thief can commit fraud. While national laws limit consumer liability in these kinds of cases to fifty bucks (only if you report it promptly), we advise you take credit card fraud very seriously. Canceling a card can be a real headache, and it may take more than a week to receive a new one in the mail. Additionally, a lot of consumers have repeated, automatic billing to their card, implying an entire, ruined evening of contacting so many businesses to change their account numbers, cancel their memberships, or undo the criminal mischief themselves – all the while risking missed payments, because they’d be without a card for that time.

Although it’s not feasible preventing every possible instance of financial fraud from happening, you can do a number of things to make it much harder for a criminal to cheat you out of your hard-earned cabbage. Whether you are a customer, merchant, or both, these 12 basic principles, when executed properly, can protect you from a great deal of trouble.

  1. Study your statements frequently, and double-check your accounts each month, cross-referencing receipts with digital – or hardcopy statements.
  2. Do NOT leave cards, receipts, or bills in your mailbox, in your car, or sitting in clear view in your home.
  3. Promptly store all record of your cards and account numbers, as well as the contact information for each company.
  4. Never provide a signature on a blank receipt.
  5. Retain card receipts to compare with statements. This action will help you to see if a store cashier tried to rip you off by upping the price charged or altering a tip.
  6. Be sure to sign your replacement card – or a brand new one – as soon as it arrives in the mail.

Stay tuned for the second installment of our two-part series on protecting yourself from credit card fraud and abuse, and as it so often happens after – identity theft. These tips may end up saving your finances, your reputation, and even your very life one day, so pay close attention. Feel free to take notes, spread the word, and implement these guidelines in your financial life as soon as possible.

 

How Online Credit Card Processing Works

Owning and running a business isn’t easy, and if you’ve ever had to do just that for a significant amount of time, you’ll know that every bit of good advice counts, and that a little precaution goes a long way. As you probably know, dear entrepreneur, because money is the most fundamental component of any for-profit organization, it is also the most stressful. Luckily, those who’ve gone before you have a little experience in the area, and can help you manage your equipment, personnel, and – most essentially – your financial skills.

From hardware to software, checkout to refund, Vision Payment Solutions (VPS) offers full-service, comprehensive card-processing technology and support, and we love to keep our readers informed about what’s going on in the industry. This article will explain to you, if you’re just considering accepting credit or debit cards from your customers, how the process works from an online perspective. If you’ve been accepting cards for some time now and understand the process fairly well, however, we hope this piece will still help clarify some of the more technical issues in the matter.

If you own an e-commerce site, you have to have online credit card processing. With an electronic merchant account and card payment gateway – all of which can be arranged through VPS – you allow your patrons to buy your products and services with just the click of a mouse, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; making money while you sleep has never been easier.

Vision Payment Solutions provides our clientele with merchant accounts and the ability to process credit card payments of all kinds, no matter the size, shape or nature of your website. Below, you will find some basic information on processing credit cards online. Keep in mind that some of these principles vary among different systems, but that, overall, these steps fairly accurately represent the fundamental components of online card processing today.

  1. A web surfer accesses your website, browses available merchandise, adds them to their shopping cart, and when they are ready for check out, they type in their billing information.
  2. If you don’t have a secure site, the customer should be transferred to a secure payment gateway. If, however, you do have a secure site, then the billing information will be forwarded to a gateway without the customer even leaving your page.
  3. When the billing information traverses the payment gateway, it is run through the credit card company’s processor.
  4. The processor then passes that information from the gateway to the bank that issued the credit card, which ensures that the card used is legitimate and that the amount required is available on the customer’s card.
  5. The bank isolates the purchase amount for you and returns either an approval number (if all criteria are met) or a decline message (if there’s a problem) to the processor.
  6. In about 10 seconds or so, the information is passed back through the gateway.
  7. The gateway sends the approval code back to your site or, if you do not have a secure site, gives your customer his or her approval information. At this time, you can also opt to have the payment gateway email your customer a receipt – a digital confirmation of your customer’s purchase, which can even be printed for his or her hardcopy records.
  8. Ultimately, the final payment is secured; it is deposited in your merchant account. Usually, it takes about 48 hours from the time of transaction for the money to show up in your checking account.

We hope this brief explanation of online credit card processing was, at the least, informative, and at the most, will help you better understand how you can work with the system to get the most bang for your buck. If you have any further questions on the issue, or would like to set up a merchant account with us, do not hesitate to call us at (877) 674-2286. A friendly VPS representative is standing by.