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The Green Sheet Online Edition

October 22, 2007 • Issue 07:10:02

Don't let security slide

By Steve Schwimmer
Renaissance Merchant Services

We all make small errors in judgment that have the potential to cost us big time _ simple lapses that allow personal data to fall into the wrong hands. And most people don't realize it until it is too late.

Those looking to gain unauthorized access to information have become very inventive. Thwarting their efforts requires following our industry's best practices and vigilant opposition. This includes taking simple precautions to bolster protection.

One insidious, clever way thieves steal information takes place as the days get shorter. Many people working at computers with the lights on and their window shades open are unaware that fraudsters could be monitoring them through the windows. Those who sit with their backs and screens facing the window are easy targets. Long-range viewing and recording devices can record every keystroke and screen.

From attending numerous industry events and speaking with colleagues, I have found many payment professionals agree the general masses don't "get it" when it comes to being vigilant with personal information. It behooves us to consistently educate our customers.

Preventive actions

Here are some reminders to pass along:

  • Do not respond to e-mails from companies looking for personal information, even if it looks official, as though it came from your own bank or a government agency such as the IRS. If you receive this type of e-mail, delete it or call the bank the message purports to be from, especially if it contains any of your account numbers. If you receive a message from a bank you don't have an account with, a red flag should go up.
  • If e-mails contain typographical or grammatical errors, be immediately cautious.
  • Do not click links inside e-mails that do not come from a trusted source. For example, do not download greeting cards during the holidays. If someone is sending a card, it shouldn't require downloading.
  • Do not share your user names, passwords or other identifying information.
  • Change your passwords regularly.
  • Log off of sites when you are done.
  • When your computer is idle, be sure it is disconnected from the Internet.
  • If you think you have mistakenly provided information to a questionable party, change your password immediately and notify your bank.

Always stay updated with the latest antivirus protections for your computer systems, consistently upgrade your systems, and do not open attachments or disks unless you know, and trust, who sent them.

Educate yourself on the ever changing requirements for handling and storing personal data. Educate customers on changes that pertain to their businesses, and help them understand and spot problems. Being knowledgeable about compliance issues and regulations will go a long way toward protecting you and your clientele. end of article

Steve Schwimmer is President of the National Association of Payment Professionals. He has been serving the payment processing industry since 1991 and is the Long Island Director of Sales for Renaissance Merchant Services. Call him at 516-746-6363 or e-mail him at thevisaguy@516phoneme.com.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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