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Legal, regulatory issues for merchants: stories and research

Sure, it's great for a merchant to take credit cards, but in the process you open yourself up to some legal and regulatory concerns. You'll find stories and research about them here.

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Retailers, card companies throw legal punches as antitrust settlement drags on -- A year ago, Visa and MasterCard reached a landmark $6.4 billion settlement with 7 million merchants. But the fighting hasn't stopped ... (See Surcharge settlement)

Merchant year in review: Trends that defined 2012 -- Did you have trouble keeping up with all the changes in the payments industry in 2012? Here's a quick look back ... (See Payment trends 2012)

U.S. EMV roll-out doesn't mean merchants have to rush -- EMV card technology is getting rolled out in the U.S. Here's what you need to know about the deadlines -- and why you don't have to rush ... (See EMV)

Walmart, Target reject Visa-MasterCard settlement. Should your business follow suit? -- Some big-box retailers are saying, "No thank you," to the recent settlement between retailers and credit card companies. But what's best for your business and customers? ... (See Lawsuit)

What merchants need to know about the Senate's mobile payments hearing -- Three experts sounded off on mobile payments at this week's Senate committee hearing. Here are the highlights for merchants ... (See Senate hearing)

Transaction fees lowered due to cap, Fed reports -- Thanks to a cap on fees, retailers are getting a break from debit card companies -- specifically, their transaction fees have been cut nearly in half, a report says. ... (See Debit)

Converting cash customers to debit users -- What motivates customers to switch from cash to debit? A recent study gives some answers -- and shows why merchants might want to encourage debit card use ... (See Cash or debit)

Five months in, how is the Durbin Amendment affecting banks, merchants and consumers? -- The Durbin Amendment capped debit card transaction fees. Here's a look at how consumers, merchants and banks are thriving in a post-Durbin world. ... (See Durbin)

What online merchants need to know about the new 1099-K -- A new tax form, the 1099-K, is making its debut for Tax Year 2011 and will affect many merchants who do business online. Here's what online sellers need to know ... (See 1099-K)

New IRS rules could lead to fee gouging -- A recent IRS reporting law could cost processors extra money. And some industry experts are worried those costs could get passed on to merchants ... (See IRS fee)

Restaurant battles bank over security breach -- Should a retailer be on the hook if the credit cards they accepted from their customers were later used fraudulently? A lawsuit is tackling that very question ... (See Lawsuit)

Many small merchants ignoring security standards -- Merchants that handle sensitive card data are supposed to adhere to certain standards to keep it safe. But many small businesses aren't doing so ... (See Card data)

Small-dollar debit card transactions have become pricy to process -- If you process a large volume of small dollar debit card transactions, you may be in for sticker shock the next time you look at your books ... (See Transaction fees)

Study: Consumers affected by debit card fees will likely turn to credit -- Consumers affected by the new debit card usage fees imposed by some banks are likely to switch to credit instead, according to a recent study ... (See Debit card usage fees)

Study: Merchants report waning confidence in the economy -- The National Small Business Association (NSBA) 2011 Mid-Year Economic Report found that small business owners are losing confidence in the economy, struggling to get financing and sweating over their prospects for 2012 ... (See Report)

A guide to Visa's merchant incentives for chip-and-PIN compliance -- Visa announced earlier this month that it will begin pushing for a U.S. migration toward chip-and-PIN (EMV) credit cards. Here's what you need to know about Visa's plan to encourage merchants to upgrade their terminals and accept chip-and-PIN credit cards ... (See EMV)

After the Durbin Amendment: A new era in debit card transactions -- Beginning Oct. 1, 2011, debit card interchange fees will be significantly cheaper for merchants. Here's what you can do to maximize the benefit to your bottom-line ... (See Fees)

Fed pivots on interchange fees -- The Federal Reserve recently surprised merchants by changing the recommended cap on interchange fees from 12 cents to 21 cents per transaction ... (See Debit)

What You Need to Know About Equifax's New Business-Scoring Model -- Equifax has just launched a new credit-scoring system that reflects the new economic realities in the small business environment. Here's what you need to know about it ... (See Score)

The latest PCI guidelines: How to securely collect payments by phone -- The council has issued new security guidelines for phone-based credit card payments. Here's what you need to know to keep fraud artists at bay ... (See PCI guidelines)

Credit card privacy laws: Are you compliant? -- The California Supreme Court recently banned merchants from asking for consumer information, such as zip codes, after a purchase. But your state may have even tougher laws on the books ... (See Privacy laws)

5 ways to boost your business, despite low consumer confidence -- Consumer sentiment plummeted in March, foretelling new challenges for merchants. Here are 5 ideas for surviving and thriving in a difficult climate ... (See Consumer sentiment)

Visa announces PCI compliance program -- but not for U.S. -- The Technology Innovation Program, recently announced by Visa, will reward merchants outside the U.S. for using chip-enabled technology and will help combat fraud ... (See PCI compliance)

Fighting high card processing fees with store debit cards -- Credit card processing fees have been eating away at merchants' profits for years, but change is in the air ... (See Card processing fees)

Florida case shows risk of checking, credit card scams -- A woman from Clearwater, Fla., who owns a fashion shop has been charged with depositing stolen checks and raiding her patrons' credit card accounts -- for the third time, no less ... (See Scams)

PCI data security standards: What they are and why they matter -- Merchants that accept credit card payments need to defend customers' sensitive personal data against theft and fraud. But where should your security measures begin? That's where PCI standards come in. ... (See PCI standards)

Credit card rules for merchants 'anticompetitive,' says Justice Department -- The rules merchants must follow in order to accept American Express, Visa and MasterCard credit cards in their businesses are "anticompetitive," according to a civil antitrust lawsuit filed Monday by the U.S. Justice Department. ... (See Rules)

Study: Debit card boom shows no signs of waning -- As consumers scaled back spending during the recession, they embraced a pay-as-you-go approach, forsaking charging for debiting -- a trend that does not appear to be going away anytime soon, according to PULSE network's 2010 Debit Issuer Study. ... (See Debit card)

Credit card usage decline slowing, study shows -- After 11 straight quarters of decline, consumer credit card use continues to fall for restaurants and retailers -- but at a slower pace than in recent months, according to a new study from Capital Access Network. ... (See Usage)

Video: How does credit card processing really work? -- You've got your merchant account, you accept credit cards and you know your business would be hit hard if you couldn't. But just how much do you know about how those credit cards actually get processed? We break it down for you. ... (See Processing)

5 things to remember about mobile credit card processing -- While applications, or apps, have made it possible for small businesses to process credit card transactions using their Apple iPhones or other smart phones, there are a few drawbacks to using this technology. ... (See Mobile)

BBB warns of credit card processing scam -- The credit card fraud involves a sales representative who offers to save the small business owner money on credit card processing fees if they sign a long-term agreement. ... (See BBB)

Study: Businesses still don't understand PCI standards -- The new PCI standards have a September 2010 deadline, but only a small percentage of companies that accept credit cards have taken steps to meet them. ... (See PCI)

Amex wins suit against merchant account fraudsters -- American Express recently won a lawsuit against Nashville restaurant owners for credit card fraud. Unfortunately, credit card fraud remains prevalent in the United States and worldwide. ... (See Amex)

Survey: Small businesses say economy holding steady -- While small business owners were negatively impacted by the recession, a recent survey by Capital One reveals that they expect the economy to improve in the next six months. ... (See Economy)

Should you consider a multifunction POS terminal? -- Multifunction point-of-sale (or POS) terminals offer many advantages over traditional ones, including cost savings, customer convenience and PCI-standards compliance ... (See Terminal)

Why some don't accept plastic -- but should reconsider -- Some small business owners, for one reason or another, do not accept plastic as a form of payment. If you're one of them, here's why you should reconsider. ... (See Plastic)

7 things you must know about credit card processing -- Credit card processing can be a complex thing. Here are seven key things that every merchant should know about it. ... (See Credit cards)

Will credit card reform mean higher interchange fees? -- Though consumers gained protections from the credit card companies with recent legislation, experts say a rise in interchange fees will probably be the result. ... (See Reform)

How to pick a payment gateway provider -- Online merchants should understand what a payment gateway is, why it is important, and how to select the right one for their business. ... (See Gateway)

New rules bring merchants new credit reporting burdens -- If a consumer contacts your company with a complaint about information that you have supplied to a credit bureau, you will be obligated to investigate under new federal rules that take effect on July 1. ... (See FACTA)

California officials examine credit card interchange fees -- Various government and private reports on rising interchange merchant fees have caused officials in California and Washington to consider solutions to help small businesses and consumers. ... (See Fees)

FBI warns small businesses about rising cybercrime dangers -- Online banking might not be as safe as you thought. The ABA and FBI are encouraging small business owners to be vigilant about online financial transactions. ... (See Cybercrime)

How to pick, use small business credit cards -- Learn about how to choose small business credit cards and how to use them more effectively when making purchases and reaping rewards. ... (See Small biz)

Visa releases data encryption best practices -- Securing credit card data is crucial. Visa has published a list of best practice recommendations in an effort to help merchants with that big task. ... (See Data)

Study: Businesses lack policies for tackling cybercrime -- Small businesses are lagging in the quest for cybersecurity, a new study reveals. This can be costly for merchants who accept credit cards, for they may be in violation of PCI security standards. ... (See Cybercrime)

Thieves use merchant accounts to commit fraud -- Merchants are troubled by recent news of credit card tricksters using merchant accounts for their latest series of fraudulent activities. ... (See Fraud)

Going global with a merchant account -- If you have not taken your business international, then now is the time to go global. Don't worry about how you will get paid for an international sale; your merchant account will handle it for you. ... (See Global)

Will Congress curb merchant fees? -- With all of the reforms in the credit card industry to ensure fairer interest rate charges and more responsible lending, will the tables soon turn to offer businesses relief from credit card processing fees? ... (See Congress)

U.S. merchant fees higher than those in other nations -- Recent credit card legislation sought to make credit card companies more transparent. The end result was that credit card companies can't arbitrarily raise interest rates or charge consumers hidden fees. But what about merchants? ... (See Fees)

Financial services company unveils new safeguard vs. ID theft -- PSCU Financial Services of St. Petersburg, Florida now uses CreditLock, a service that lets customers at over 600 credit unions lock and unlock their credit cards with a quick phone call. ... (See CreditLock)

More states adding data breach notification laws -- New data breach notification laws make merchants and vendors responsible for notifying customers when their private data is illegally accessed. More and more states are jumping on board. ... (See Data breach)

Hacker pleads guilty to giant ID theft; learn how to protect yourself -- Ehud Tenenbaum, also known as "The Analyzer," recently pleaded guilty to a single count of credit card fraud that stemmed from a more than $10 million theft of credit card numbers. ... (See Hacker)

4 steps to help you keep credit card processing fees low -- Merchant account providers charge fees for payments made using credit cards. These merchant account fees can really add up, making profits from credit card transactions less. Here's the scoop on how to keep your credit card fees lower. ... (See Fees)

Network Solutions data breach stirs controversy -- Network Solutions announces breach that impacts thousands of retailers. However, some retailers fear that customers will blame their small enterprises rather than blaming the company that merchants feel is responsible for the breach. ... (See Breach)

Merchant accounts victimized by hackers' unusual scheme -- Even with the data encryption methods currently in place, hackers still have found a fairly large loophole in the credit card processing system. By exploiting merchant accounts, unscrupulous individuals can commit credit card fraud without ever stepping into a place of business. ... (See Hackers)

United Airlines shifts credit card merchant processing to travel agents -- United Airlines has informed some travel agents that they no longer will have access to United's merchant processing system for credit card purchases. The impact of this remains to be seen. ... (See Travel)

New rules let consumers dispute credit report errors with merchants -- Under new rules which go into effect next year, consumers can take up disputes over inaccuracies on their credit reports directly with the businesses that provided the information. Businesses, in turn, are required to investigate these disputes. This could have a significant impact on your record-keeping systems and administrative procedures. ... (See Rules)

Credit card processing for nonprofits -- Considering accepting credit card donations for your nonprofit? There are a number of factors to weigh. ... (See Nonprofits)

7-11 gathers signatures to fight credit card fees -- Popular convenience store chain 7-11 objects to high swipe fees on its credit card transactions and has organized a petition to try and get 1 million signatures. It's all to get the attention of Congress. ... (See 7-11)

Agencies issue frequently asked questions on ID theft rules -- The government is still implementing the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003. The latest update is the report "Identity Theft Red Flags and Address Discrepancies." Here's what you need to know. ... (See ID theft)

Get answers to your questions about PCI data security standards -- Small business owners, with the help of merchant account providers and trade associations, can learn more about PCI standards for data security. ... (See PCI standards)

FTC delays "Red Flags Rules" to May 1, 2009 -- Creditors and financial institutions granted a six-month extension to comply with FTC anti-theft 'Red Flags Rules.' ... (more)

All you need to know about the discount rate -- When you're shopping for a merchant account, paying attention to the discount rate will help you make the best decision for your business. ... (See Discount rate)

New bill aims to cut merchant fees -- Business owners often complain that they are unable to bargain for lower fees on merchant accounts. The U.S. Credit Card Fair Fee Act aims to help, but banks and credit unions are opposed to it. ... (See Fee cut)

Who regulates merchant accounts? -- There are several agencies that ensure the viability of your merchant account. Here are the key players. ... (See Regulate)

Credit cards drive growth in small business lending -- The nation's largest card issuers are also the largest providers of small business loans, according to a 2008 report by the Small Business Administration. ... (See Lending)

Small business owners' confidence in economy falls sharply -- Small business owners' economic confidence plummeted in May, just a month after reaching its highest level in more than a year, according a new report. ... (See Economy)

5 reasons why data security is a really big deal -- With online and offline identity theft on the rise, it's more important than ever to pay attention to data security and how it applies to your business. Here are some reasons why data security needs to be a top priority for your business. ... (See Data security)

Tips for merchants on how to combat charge-offs -- There are several ways you can dramatically limit the number of credit card charge-offs your business encounters. Credit card charge-offs happen when a purchase is deemed uncollectible, which can put a big dent in your enterprise's merchant account. ... (See Charge-offs)

'Red Flags Rules' deadline extended again -- The implementation date for the 'Red Flags Rules,' which require merchants to have written plans to combat ID theft, has been pushed back again by the FTC to Aug. 1, 2009. ... (See Delay)

What merchants must know about PCI security standards -- PCI security standards help to ensure that credit card transaction processing runs smoothly in regards to protecting cardholder data. Merchants should familiarize themselves with the standards before accepting any of the major brands of cards. ... (See Security)

IRS targets merchants processing offshore cards -- The IRS is widening its net in an attempt to pull in tax-evading merchants who use offshore accounts to hide income. ... (See IRS)

House subcommittee debates card security standards -- A House subcommittee panel expressed doubt in a March 31 session that the current Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) council requirements imposed on merchants significantly prevent electronic crimes. ... (See Security)

Merchant account terms: Glossary, definitions -- Merchant accounts have their own special language, and for the business owner accepting credit cards, they're crucial to know. ... (See Glossary)

FAQs about applying for a merchant account online -- Frequently asked questions about merchant accounts, which are easy to use, but sometimes tricky to set up. ... (See FAQ)

How merchant account transactions work -- This interactive guide to merchant account processing and transactions lays out, in simple fashion, each step, from the customer's credit card swipe to money in the businessperson's pocket. ... (See Interactive)

FTC delays 'Red Flags Rules' to May 1, 2009 -- Creditors and financial institutions granted merchants a six-month extension to comply with FTC anti-theft 'Red Flags Rules.' ... (See Rules)

'Red Flags Rules' require merchants to help fight ID theft -- On Nov. 1, 2008, credit card issuers and businesses that extend credit must establish policies -- called the Red Flags Rules -- to help detect fraud. ... (See Identity theft)

5 ways to prevent employee credit card abuse -- Here are 5 steps small business owners can take to prevent unauthorized credit card purchases by employees. ... (more)

Merchants struggle to secure user data, deter identity theft -- Merchants' battles to secure consumer credit card data never end. That's why the credit card industry imposes mandatory security standards on merchants, processors, manufacturers of PIN entry devices and application developers. ... (See ID theft)

Rules changing for merchants handling credit card data -- Safety concerns for consumers' credit card information prompt changes in the way businesses handle data. ... (See Changes)

Business credit scores: What they are, how to boost yours -- Just as an individual has a credit score, so does a business. As with individual scores, the number determines whether your business gets credit and at what rate. ... (See Scores)