How to Avoid Merchant Account Scams in 2012

(Ping! Zine Web Hosting News) – The Internet has been the great facilitator over the past decade, reshaping both domestic and global commerce and providing access to enormous amounts of information with a single mouse click.  Enhanced convenience has been a true gift, but there is also a downside to this new electronic age.  We too easily trust new business partners that we find in “the cloud” and fail to do many of the checks and balances that we would normally perform with someone “face-to-face”, especially someone that will be handling our money.

Risk management and law enforcement professionals must continually deal with the criminal element of our society, and their conclusions are that they are well organized, have adapted to the unique requirements of cyberspace, and are ably trained in separating you from your money in most every endeavor known to man on the planet.    Even with something as simple and straightforward as a merchant processing account, one must do their due diligence and watch out for the wily schemes of the scam artist.

Major scams may involve losing your full account balance to a swindler or handing over confidential customer information for criminal intentions, but the more prevalent scam is partial in nature and could easily fall under the definition of deceitful business practices.  The latter variety pertains to a host of “hidden” fees that are deducted right and left from your daily account submissions, along with hefty termination fees when you try to rectify the situation.

Awareness and healthy skepticism are your “weapons” for protecting your online or retail revenue stream from vanishing before your eyes.  The merchant processing industry is driven by scale and is highly commoditized, meaning that margins are tight and there is no room for outrageous claims or promises of much more than a few pennies on the dollar.  There are large organizations that operate through many independent agents, but if the Visa or MasterCard trademarks appear on any website or marketing collateral, the sponsoring bank must also be disclosed, the first reference point to notice.

Here are a few other pointers to ensure that you deal with a reputable firm:

Stay with established firms.  “The Nilson Report” is the industry trade journal.  Every year they publish a listing of the Top 100 Merchant Processors.  Previous lists can be readily found on the Internet.  Shop around, but validate that your candidates is a firm in good standing that has been around for a few years; -Ask for and review the full set of documents that you are to sign.  All fees must be disclosed, but are often in the fine print.   Merchant account rates are not the only ones to accept; -Look for testimonials, both good and bad, on message boards, retail forums, or industry blogs.  There may be articles on the Internet to review, and also check with your local “Better Business Bureau” and state government for data.