Sometimes it requires a small business loan and greater investment in security to protect both you and your customers from fraud and identity theft. This is especially true during the holiday shopping season. By ensuring the safety of your customers and your company’s accounts, you not only build a lasting trust with these fickle shoppers, but you protect your financial interests.
The holiday shopping season is typically characterized by pandemonium, chaos and general disarray. As customers embark en masse to all of their favorite retail stores, cashiers get swamped, inventory ends up all across the floor and managers and owners must do all they can to stay at least one step ahead of the eager shoppers. Unfortunately, criminals thrive on this type of organized chaos. According to the National Retail Federation, total sales during the winter holiday shopping season are estimated to reach $630.5 billion this year, and criminals are eager to carve out their own little slice of this revenue.
Thankfully, there are several ways retailers and other small business owners can safeguard their merchandise, sensitive financial information and operations against criminals.
While most retailers will be familiar with the recent transition from regular magnetic stripe debit/credit cards to the EMV cards, not every owner has made the switch. For those unaware of the change, beginning Oct. 15, 2015, a liability shift occurred, which means banks will no longer be held responsible for fraudulent activity that happens on a magnetic stripe transaction if an EMV transaction is available. Instead the business will be held liable for any fraudulent activity. According to Ingenico Group, only about 60 percent of U.S. cardholders received EMV cards from their banks or card issuers. In addition, only 41 percent of small businesses have installed EMV readers, as many cited costs concerns and an absence of training, according to a TD Bank survey. By installing EMV point-of-sale terminals and ensuring employees accurately utilize this technology, owners can reduce the likelihood of fraudulent activity occurring and increase their POS security.
Hire extra security
While no one anticipates a melee to break out at a store, it’s unfortunately not unheard of. Two customers simultaneously reaching for the last highly sought-after product on the shelf can lead to a disparaging exchange of derogatory comments that can easily escalate if the proper precautions are not met. In another example, a brazen thief might attempt to pilfer expensive products in front of everyone. In either of these scenarios, having a security guard on duty can easily dissipate any tension or scare away a would-be thief.
Beef up cybersecurity
Hackers breaching servers and networks are becoming all too common. With so many transactions occurring at such a high level, it can be easy to lose track. In addition, cybercriminals are becoming more technologically savvy each and every day, which means small business owners – especially retailers – need to remain vigilant in their efforts to combat this increasingly prevalent form of crime. Speaking with IT professionals to build a more secure system will protect both your records and your customers’ accounts. And you can often lease IT equipment to help keep costs down and ensure you get the most up-to-date technology.
Whether having introductory sessions for seasonal hires to refresher courses for long-time employees, it can never hurt to institute a few training courses. New workers might not yet have the eye for watching for fraudulent behavior, while loyal employees can sometimes become complacent. Incorporating some extra training classes keeps everyone on their toes and can even potentially reduce or diminish the chances of employees stealing or assisting with a theft at the company.
While all of these suggestions will ultimately cost a business owner additional overhead, the increased security and financial safeguards cannot be underestimated. Ensuring the safety of your customers’ and your company’s sensitive data builds brand trust and keeps more money in your pocket.