4 Questions You Should Answer Before Accepting Online Payments From Customers

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Over the last couple of years, big business conglomerates like Michael’s, P.F.Chang’s, Target and others have experienced crippling breaches in their security systems. There are claims that the data of 70 million customers were compromised during the breach at Target.



Typically, individual buyers and sellers are the groups of people affected the most by “credit card fraud.’ Small businesses are the ones hit hardest – online fraud is a confusing area which can leave new shop owners lost.

There are huge concerns that things could deteriorate before showing signs of improvement.  Protect your eCommerce store and ask these four important questions before accepting online payments.

1. Is My Payment Provider Providing Any Form Of Security?

The accounting of most businesses is handled by web-based applications or mobile applications.  Business owners are very trusting of the connections they have with merchants and their banks.

Usually, business owners think that their merchant or bank will resolve the situation one way or the other.  But be cautious of overly relying on other parties as this may cause additional loss of your funds and information.

For the most part, banks usually repay business owners for theft identified with individual credit cards. However, this does mean that business accounts will do the same.  

According to Mickey Estey, an expert in professional liability, businesses are increasingly experiencing assaults online, and there is no distinct line for outlining risk.

The bottom line is, the risk is often placed on the small business owner.  

2. Is The Billing And Shipping Address The Same?

Is there a different billing and shipping address, and is the client insisting on having the shipping expedited?  If so it may be an indication of fraud.

Additionally, businesses should exercise caution when the shipping address is different from the charging address on the card; the company bears the greater risk in the event of a fraudulent exchange. This is not a foolproof fraud indicator as some legitimate customers may purchase products as gifts.  

In any case, be cautious of transactions that align with this description. It is best that the business owner verifies and compares the phone numbers too.



Scam Checker allows you to check for details like the company’s websites and if the purchaser is also a business owner.

3. Is The Email Address Suspicious?

Some email address should raise red flags if you see one coming through your system.

If it reads something similar to [email protected], this is a strong indicator of fraud.

It might be a good idea to set up an email verification system which forces the user to go to their inbox and click a link to verify their email.  Alternatively, set up a process whereby you can manually check all sales.  There are online tools such as Verify Email which can help you check for legitimacy.

4. Is Our System Secure?

It is important that you focus on transactions involving individual credit cards as well as the defense of your whole website and online business systems. Small businesses are the prime targets for cyber attacks because they are often seen as easier victims than the bigger conglomerates.

Ensure that your programs and services are updated with the latest security requirements of the Payment Card Industry (PCI) for online business at every stage.   A great way to ensure compliance is to work with a 3rd Party Gateway who offers Payment Solutions for small business.

Big web-based business software programs or providers of shopping carts also have details of PCI requirements on their websites. I usually recommend, taking a look at the Visa’s business guide animation on data security. MasterCard also provides online fraud prevention courses for sellers.

A couple of e-commerce websites often install a ‘trust mark’ security plug-in service that runs daily to discover vulnerabilities and malware. Some of them include McAfee Secure, Truste, or Verisign. These services are effective in preventing and curbing security challenges in quick time. They are also an easier way to gain the customer’s trust.

You can also check if the e-commerce software system you are using, particularly if you are using a hosted e-commerce service, has implemented complex security strategies and if they are willing to offer the additional defense as part of the hosting services.



Regularly updating your software whenever upgrades are released is important.

Some of the upgrades may include security measures which are crucial to preventing a breach of your e-commerce website. A weak gap on the e-commerce site could be the secondary passage for hackers to compromise your security and steal your customer’s information, credit card details and lots more.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Hassan! Great read on the subject of whether to receive online payments from customers. As you stated Target was one company to have a major security breach, as a former Guest Experience Manager for the company I had to deal with customer complaints and concerns regarding this issue. You provide some great tips for companies to work through before accepting online payments from customer’s, especially for smaller businesses who may not have the resources to fight against cyber attacks.

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