These days, all it takes to destroy customer confidence is one mistake. One slip, one screw-up, and suddenly there’s a breach of customer data, and (even if no one is actually harmed) if it doesn’t result in many people (or even one person) losing a lot of money and their good credit score, you’ve still become unreliable in their minds. You might have to build an entirely new customer base when this lack of security is still fresh in your previous customer’s minds. While a small business isn’t as vulnerable as a major corporation because fewer thieves would target the "small fry" that is a business below huge corporate status, you can still take steps to prevent theft and boost your customer’s confidence in you. You can handle their credit information and they should feel free to buy from you and allow their sensitive personal data to be safe in your hands. Here are five ways that you can make that happen.
Use Encryption at Every Step
One of the most obvious things that you can do to protect credit card information is to simply not put it out there in any usable form. Did you know that there are card readers that will actually encrypt from the moment a card is swiped? This means that it would be very difficult for a thief to bug the card reader and get anything usable out of it. In addition, they’d have to crack the encryption codes which put another layer of extreme difficulty over your first layer of actually getting the bug undetected into the card reader in the first place. You’ve hobbled them out of the starting gate. This is part of a string of working encryptions you can work to adopt, according to Inc, that will keep your data secure. Obviously, your servers should be encrypted as well as you can make them until you can safely delete a customer’s data when it no longer is relevant.
Put More Control in the Hands of Clients
Of course, one of the best ways that you can boost customer confidence doesn’t involve actually doing anything out of the ordinary at all. All you have to do to make people feel better is let them think that they’re in control. This can easily be achieved with a tablet-based POS system, like what eCommerce vendor Shopify offers, as with the right functions, your customers can basically check themselves out. Their card never has to leave their fingertips, let alone their sight, when they can swipe their card themselves. This reduces the chances that a bad egg employee will be able to make off with everyone’s sensitive information, but it really is more of a comfort to customers than a legitimate security precaution. Just letting a customer swipe their own card won’t help if the card reader isn’t encrypted, for example. However, it’s very good for customer confidence and has the bonus side effect of reducing a relatively rare crime where employees will simply copy down credit card information for their use later, or to sell to others.
Keep Work Tablets at Work
The odds are good that you’re not going to be storing credit card information for too long. Once everything’s been processed, you’re free to safely dump your personal data files and give your customers some real peace of mind. However, that’s not an excuse for letting important tablets out of your sight. When more than 50% of people carry less than $20 in cash, according to the Washington Post, your tablets are going to be chock full of sensitive information at the end of the day. That’s why they should be locked, password protected, and then locked securely in your business until it’s time to open again. Lost or stolen devices account for many security breaches.
Don’t Email Personal Information
This should go without saying, but email is not the safest place for personal information, even if you’re conversing with a customer. They probably don’t have an encrypted server at home, and odds are good that they won’t take the same precautions with their devices that you take with yours. If their device is lost or stolen a thief could use your communications to get their information. If at all possible, encourage the customer to come into the store to talk about their accounts, charges on their card, and so forth. Impersonating a client is also a way thieves try to trick companies into releasing data they shouldn’t have.
Train All Personnel
Lastly, your best defense against breaches is a well trained staff. Just by making simple adjustments to their routine such as switching from long-hand data entry to barcoded scanning, you can turn your collection of clerks into a well-oiled machine, all while reducing the time they spend per item by as much as two to three times, according to the Houston Chronicle.