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How to take card payments over the phone & stay efficient.

Inovio recurring paymentsFor today’s time-strapped customers, convenience is everything. As a result, more and more of them are foregoing cash and using credit and debit cards to make their in-person purchases. In addition, an increasing number of buyers are preferring to avoid retail stores altogether in favor of buying products and services online, over the phone or, in rarer cases, through the mail. As a merchant, it makes sense for you to accommodate these shifting preferences by allowing patrons to make purchases using their preferred payment method. That makes this the perfect time to learn how to successfully take these more remote types of payments, sometimes called “mail order telephone order” (MOTO payment processing), in a way that enables you to remain efficient and in compliance with industry security standards!

How to accept credit card payments over the phone.

If you want to boost customer satisfaction, one of the best ways is to provide shoppers with alternatives, including the convenience of accepting their credit card information when they are not physically present at your store. There are several ways to do this, including:

• Manually entering your customer’s credit card number, expiration date, and CVV code into your credit card reader.

• Using web-based card processing, also known as a virtual terminal, to key in the customer’s information online.

• Emailing an invoice to your customer, allowing them to pay using an online payment system.

In all of these cases, your customer data is not as secure as it would be if they paid in person using contactless or EMV chip card technology. For that reason, there is an additional cost to transact payments remotely in these ways.

Are phone payments safe?

As stated above, there are additional risks to both customers and merchants when credit card information is given verbally over the phone by a customer and manually keyed in by the merchant. There is always the potential that the customer is not who they say they are and are not the authorized owner of the card whose information they are providing. In addition, the potential exists for an unscrupulous merchant or staff-person to steal the buyer’s data and later use it for their own criminal purposes. In order to do all you can to safeguard yourself as a business owner who takes payments over the phone, it is wise to put the following safety measures in place:

• Be sure to ask for and enter the complete set of customer information, including card number, CVV, expiration date, and the customer’s full name as it appears on the card. For additional protection, also ask for the buyer’s phone number and complete shipping and billing addresses, including zip codes.

• Make sure your point-of-sale (POS) solution is up-to-date. Modern payment devices generally include software that enables you to verify the customer’s account before the transaction is accepted.

• Do a quick zip code match before putting the payment through. If the zip codes of the shipping and billing addresses are different and the customer does not have a ready, logical reason for why this is the case, consider asking that the package be sent to the billing address instead.

• Confirm that the products the customer ordered were delivered by purchasing shipment tracking, particularly for big-ticket items. You might also want to require that an adult sign for the package. This extra step enables you to keep accurate records which you can refer to if issues arise.

• Print out a receipt for every order to be stored in your records. On the signature line, indicate that it was a phone order.

The clearer and more detailed your records are when it comes to MOTO payment processing, the less likely you will become an unwitting victim of customer fraud or human error.

Regulations that help safeguard your MOTO transactions.

PCI compliance, specifically PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), is the set of requirements that ensures sensitive cardholder data is stored and transmitted securely. This is particularly helpful in the realm of phone credit card payments. In order to comply with these standards, it is your responsibility as a seller to keep records of each transaction, including whether the payment was made online, over the phone, or by mail. In addition, your transaction must be conducted using a secure SSL connection, and your network systems must be PCI-DSS compliant.

Like anything in the business world, MOTO payment processing has its downsides and advantages. There is no doubt that phone and online card-not-present payments bear a higher risk of being fraudulent, a situation made all the more difficult because physical evidence proving the customer’s identity is usually lacking. As a result, merchants can expect to pay higher fees for the privilege of taking mobile and online payments so that the card processing company can offset the risks. 

On the other hand, MOTO payments meet a very real customer need for convenience while simultaneously allowing the merchant to have faster access to the cash they are owed. These days, most sellers are choosing to view the added record-keeping and fees associated with phone payments as simply part of the cost of doing business and giving their valued customers what they want. Like it or not, your competitors are probably offering flexible and diverse payment options. Therefore, it is in your best interest to do the same

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