|Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.|
Protecting Your Small Business Debit or Travel Cards
Debit and travel cards provide convenient and cost-effective payment and financial management tools for small business owners, but their ease-of-use also makes it vitally important to protect these cards (and your linked accounts) against unauthorized use and fraud.
About a third of all purchases in the United States are made with payment cards, and debit and travel cards comprise an increasingly large portion of those transactions.
Unfortunately, this growing popularity leads to a corresponding growth in payment-card-related fraud attempts, both by outside hackers and, in the case of businesses, by employees.
Estimates vary about the amount of payment-card fraud committed by team members, but some common problems include:
The growing risks make it important to understand not only how your company's debit or travel cards can be used inappropriately, but also ways to protect your company and the banking accounts linked to your payment cards.
For starters, it's a good idea to talk to your banker about the cards your company uses and the associated fraud protections. A business debit card, for instance, may not have the same mandatory safeguards against unauthorized transactions as a credit card, but many banks offer liability limits and similar protection.
It's also a good idea to be aware of phishing or "smishing" schemes in which someone will send a fraudulent email or text message asking you to log into your account. Your bank won't send you this type of message, so treat any requests to access your account via a link embedded in a message suspiciously.
In addition, take advantage of the security features built in to the latest-generation EMV "chip' cards that are gradually replacing debit and travel cards in the United States. These cards encrypt expiration dates and similar identifiable information with each transaction, making transactions more secure than those completed with a traditional magnetic-strip card. Even if an EMV card is lost or stolen, it can't be used for unauthorized transactions.
Safeguarding Your Accounts
Banks and the payment card associations recommend a variety of additional steps to protect your debit and travel cards against unauthorized use:
With some prudent risk management, debit and travel cards can increase your small business' financial flexibility without opening the door to fraud and unauthorized use.
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