An increasing number of business owners manage online transaction processing of their finances on their own today.
Think about your company. Do you perform any of the following essential functions via the web?
- Accept credit card or deposits from a payment form
- Connect to a web-based or mobile app for accounting
- File your taxes
- Submit payroll to a third-party processor
- Use online banking apps
If you do so, then you are not alone.
Online banking, for example, spiked over the past five years. In fact, Statista reports that over 161 million Americans now bank online, up twenty percent since 2014.
That statistic is not very surprising. Think about it, handling financial transactions digitally offers both business owners and retail consumers many advantages:
- Transactions 24/7/365
- Access to a mobile app
- View real-time statements
- Ease of managing books
- Reduced labor
- No time wasted standing in lines
But, there are enormous pitfalls that go hand-in-hand with the added convenience of handling these online transactions for your business. Data theft and online fraud.
So, if you manage your finances online, there are some protective measures that you must take–both as a consumer and as a business owner.
To keep this blog post relatively short, let’s look at how to stay safe while performing cash flow functions. We’ll review safety measures both as an online banking customer and when collecting online payments.
Safety Tips for You as an Online Banking Customer
As a business owner, you might make mobile deposits, money transfers between accounts, or pay your company’s bills via online banking.
A recent newsletter from PNC bank offers some practical safety tips:
1 - Set unique passwords
When you set up your online banking, set a unique password only for your banking log-in. Don’t overlap passwords with your email, WordPress, or other accounts. Make those passwords difficult to guess and change them often.
2 - Use multi-factor authentication
Most banks today offer the added security of multi-factor authentication. This process is a two-step log-in, but don’t worry. It’s easy to complete. You first key in your User ID and password on your bank’s website as usual. Then, they send you a one-time passcode to enter your bank account.
If your bank doesn’t list this offering on their website, message their customer service department. They probably provide it but might not actively promote it (shame on them!).
3 - Enroll in alerts
Online banks will also allow you to enroll in alerts that send you a daily text message or email that notifies you of any account activity. You can often personalize the settings, so you receive one daily summary unless you prefer an alert to every action throughout the day. Your call!
4 - Don’t get phished
Phishing, a form of email fraud, is prevalent. With this scam, fraudsters pose as banks and send out genuine-looking emails. They will ask you to verify your account information and redirect you to a site that looks authentic. However, this is a scam.
Banks will not ask you to share sensitive data via email. If you receive this type of “banking notice,” alert your bank right away.
5 - Be cautious of selfies and social media
A final tip shared by PNC is to be wary of social media. Information that you share online could be used against you.
I’m adding selfies to their advice. That social media tip reminded me of a place I worked at five years ago with a zero-tolerance policy for smartphones. The reason?
An accounting employee had snapped a selfie working at her desk. Unfortunately, her monitor displayed the company’s bank routing data at the time she captured the image. She shared this on Facebook. The business owner had to shut down all his account access, and it caused an enormous headache for all.
Fortunately, the lady realized her mistake, came clean, and she was able to alert them, so no damage occurred. True story.
4 Safety Tips for Receiving Credit Card or ACH (Bank Routing) Payments
Next, let’s look at how you can boost online safety when you are handling another critical part of your finances–receiving payments from your users. Your customers place trust in you when they hand over their credit card digits or set up subscriptions using their ACH or bank routing numbers.
You’ve earned their trust, don’t squander it!
1 - Set strong passwords
It may sound like a repeat of the online banking advice, and it is. But, it’s worth starting off with a reminder about creating strong passwords. Passwords are a cornerstone of online security.
2 - Don’t receive payment forms via email
Make sure you set your alerts to notify you that you received a form. However, make sure it does not include the form data. This distinction is essential, particularly with payment forms.
Be sure you send the payment form directly to your form app’s data manager. That’s because email is far less secure than the environment of many form builder apps.
Of course, if you partner with EmailMeForm, you know that our data manager is simple to use but super secure for storing your form responses.
3 - Educate your employees
Make your employees aware of the urgency of protecting payment form data (and all financial data, for that matter!).
There is no place for careless actions when employees handle online finances or sensitive user data. Cybersecurity is the role of every person you employ.
Train them on your password standards and other safe data handling measures. And, do feel free to share my story about the accounting employee’s selfie I shared earlier. This true tale is a prime example of what NOT to do.
4 - Lock data in a Vault
Managing your finances is easiest when you receive payments digitally. And, the safest way for you to accept credit cards or other payment forms online is to use EmailMeForm. Then, you can lock up your payment in our Vault.
As we are talking about banking, let’s think about a bank vault.
If you had a large red velvet bag of top-grade diamonds, you wouldn’t keep them locked in your home. You’d take them to a bank and deposit them into a safe box inside their vault. To retrieve the diamonds, you’d need to first gain access to the vault itself. Then, you’d use your key to unlock your deposit box.
EmailMeForm’s Vault is not very different. You have your own place of storing data inside our Vault. You use multi-factor authentication to retrieve the data when you’re ready to work with it.
But, until you need that data, it is secured from those who would wish to steal it.
Handle Business Finances Online with Peace of Mind
When you know the rules for handling your online transaction processing securely, you’ll gain peace of mind when running your business.
In turn, you will be able to assure your clients that you are capable and confident in how you manage their sensitive information. And that’s the way to gain loyal customers and continue to grow your business.