5 Tips for Accepting Credit Cards by Phone

Credit card companies tend to discourage merchants from accepting payments over the phone because of the heightened possibility of unauthorized use or fraud. But, depending on the type of business you operate, taking phone orders may be necessary for you to serve your customers.

Here are five suggestions for making sure that your transactions proceed smoothly and safely:

1. Don’t use your smartphone to speak with a customer and complete a credit card transaction simultaneously. Most mobile-payment systems (like GoPayment) don’t allow you to talk to someone and process a credit card payment on your smartphone at the same time. To do both, you’ll need to use a tablet computer or second phone to key in the customer’s credit card number.

2. Be sure to get the card’s expiration date and security code from the customer. Entering the expiration date prevents you from accepting a credit card that’s tied to a closed account. In addition, every credit card has a three- or four-digit security code printed on it; entering this security code at the time of purchase tells you that the person on the other end of the phone has the actual card in his/her hand, rather than just a credit card number.

3. Be prepared to pay extra to process phone-based transactions. Almost all merchant services providers (including GoPayment) charge businesses a slightly higher rate for “card not present” transactions — such as those completed over the phone — than for standard credit card purchases. That’s because the risk of fraud associated with these transactions is greater.

4. If a customer calls from a blocked or unavailable number, obtain a phone number for your records. Ask for a phone number “in case you get disconnected during the call.” But this step also gives you one more piece of information to help you verify a customer’s authenticity — or help authorities track down someone who’s using a false or stolen credit card number.

5. If you are the least bit suspicious about a credit card user, don’t process the transaction. It’s much harder to deal with a fraudulent or unauthorized transaction than it is to reject the transaction in the first place. Tell the customer you’re sorry, but the charge didn’t go through; you don’t have to inform the customer of your suspicions.

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