By Jennifer Nieto, Best Card LLC
Best Card gets calls from dental offices all day long asking about intimidating credit-card processing related calls, voicemail messages, or faxes they receive. The intimidating calls are likely from marketers using underhanded tactics to solicit business. We tell offices an easy way to distinguish whether a call is from a marketer or from your processor is: ask the caller what your merchant number is. Your processor will know your merchant number; marketers won’t.
In this article, I’ll cover some of the most common claims marketers make, and information that will enable you to separate credit-card processing fact from fiction.
“You need new equipment—your existing equipment isn’t EMV-ready.”
If you hear this, ask the caller to tell you what equipment you have. If he doesn’t know, he isn’t your processor.
How can you tell if your credit-card processing equipment is EMV-ready or EMV-adaptable? Your terminal may be EMV-ready if there’s a slot on the front for card insertion (in addition to the magnetic card reader—where you slide a card through). Some terminals (with or without a slot) can be adapted to the EMV technology with the addition of an EMV pad. If you’d like help determining if your equipment is EMV-ready or adaptable, you can contact TDA Perks partner Best Card at 877-739-3952 or call your processor.
What does EMV refer to? EMV stands for “Europay, MasterCard® and Visa®.” “Smart” credit cards will contain EMV integrated-circuit (IC) “chip” technology—and eventually replace cards with a magnetic stripe that have been the standard in the United States since 1960. EMV IC technology uses dynamic data (versus static data contained in the magnetic stripe, which can easily be stolen these days).
Its purpose is to reduce credit-card fraud and identity theft. Credit card issuers were supposed to begin issuing EMV chip cards in January 2013, but most delayed. (The target date for you to have EMV programmed equipment is now October 2015.) Many processors don’t have software enabled for EMV yet, but most will know which terminals will or will not be EMV-supported.
“You’re not PCI or HIPAA-Compliant.”
You may or may not be PCI-compliant; only your processor will know. If the caller can provide you with your merchant number, ask him or her to help you log in to your PCI questionnaire and determine if you’re compliant. If you’re not, ask for help in becoming compliant. You may be charged a monthly fee of approximately $20 if you’re non-compliant.
What is “PCI”? PCI stands for “Payment Card Industry.” Just as you need to review your HIPAA policy and procedures annually, you also need to re-certify each year that you’re securing credit card information properly. If you use an online system, you generally also need quarterly scans of your IP address to ensure proper firewalls, antivirus protection, etc. are in place. Also, be aware that if you’re using an online system and using Windows XP, you’re no longer PCI-compliant.
Nearly all processors have a monthly or annual fee (most range from $25-100 annually). However, recently some companies providing IP-address scans are stating that new HIPAA-compliance requirements mandate new procedures, and are charging $99 per month. You can call Lee Slaton of Smart Training (TDA Perks partner for OSHA and HIPAA compliance) at 469-342-8300 ext. 620 for further clarification of the September 2013 Omnibus bill relating to third-party notification requirements.
In-depth information about PCI compliance for merchants can be found at:
More about HIPAA requirements can be found at: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/administrative/securityrule/techsafeguards.pdf
“You’re paying retail rates. You should be getting healthcare rates.”
Any processor can say it offers “healthcare rates,” but all processors pay the same fees to card issuers based on the type of card presented. The only card issuer who structures its fees differently for dental practices (than with other businesses) is American Express. You can see the interchange fee schedules of the more than 1,200 types of credit cards at MasterCard.com, Visa.com, etc. Debit cards are the least costly, followed by credit cards, and finally rewards cards are most costly. You’ll also generally pay more when you key a card, as opposed to when you swipe it. If you want to know more about a processor’s healthcare rates, ask it to email or fax its rate sheet to you. Very few will have something to send you; most simply want to get your statement. Some processors will slightly undercut the rates you’re paying and lock you into a long-term contract with high termination fees ($500+), monthly minimums, lost profitability clauses and leased equipment—and proceed to increase rates. Many have 3-year contracts with auto-renew clauses. However, some processors allow merchants to leave at any time for a low or $0 close fee.
“I’m a Visa/MasterCard, etc. representative…”
If you hear this line, you’re receiving a marketing call from a salesperson. These calls can be intimidating, because the caller would like you to believe he or she is a representative of Visa or MasterCard, and that you‘re in violation of something.
Dental offices tell us they receive voicemails stating the practice must return their calls immediately because the practices’ equipment is not compliant with industry requirements. Some callers insist on speaking directly to the dentist regarding her merchant account “risk status,” which has “recently changed. Or the caller may say the merchant account is no longer being eligible for “tier 1” prices.
We’re often told by our customers that these callers imply they’re with the practice’s current processor. They’ve been known to tell TDA members they’ve taken over the region for Best Card (TDA Perks Program’s endorsed credit card processing company), and even claim they’re part of Best Card’s staff. Fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission is taking action. If you’ve received a call from a company claiming to be your present processor, but you know is not, please report improper activities. You can learn more at: http://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/132-3013/merchant-services-direct-llc-et-al.
Jennifer Nieto is former associate executive director of finance for Colorado Dental Association and president of RJ Card Processing Inc. (d.b.a. Best Card, LLC)—TDA Perks Program’s endorsed credit card processor.
TDA members save an average of 26% ($1,399 annually) in processing fees through Best Card. 1 As of April 2014, the average effective rate (total fees paid divided by total dollars processed) for TDA members processing with Best Card was 2.084%. To receive a rate sheet, please call Best Card at: 877-739-3952.
Receive a complete and confidential cost comparison by sending a recent credit card processing statement via fax or email to: 866-717-7247 or CompareRates@BestCardTeam.com.
Receive a $100 sign-up bonus your third month with Best Card. Or apply the cash toward new EMV-supported equipment or an online system. Offer expires in 60 days, and is prorated if processing is less than $8,000/month.