Merchant Account Scams And How To Avoid Them

A partial scam involves concealed or altered information about the prices, fees, charges, features and the description overall. The most common partial scam is the ‘hidden fee’ scam. The hidden fee scam is the concealment of some fees, rates and extra charges (usually applied by the processing bank), which then suddenly pop up, or remain hidden and unaccounted for until the e-Commerce merchant receives the bill from the processing bank. Some credit card processing companies do not provide a full price list. A full price list should have, at least, a link to the processing bank with the banks charges, rates and fees, which are usually not displayed on a merchant account provider’s website. This does NOT mean that if there is no information about the processing bank there’s a scam. Many e-Commerce merchant providers usually have many processing banks that they work with, especially when the provider is an offshore merchant account provider. In such a case, you will get all the contact information once the best credit card processing bank for you is chosen. Partial scams also commonly involve hidden or extra fees that are not included in the price lists. Once you apply for one of these e-Commerce merchant accounts you will get a huge terms and conditions documentation, commonly know as the credit card gateway contract. There will usually be many statements in fineprint, which should be read through carefully. After signing up for a partially scammed e-Commerce merchant account you will really be held back by the extreme level of unexpected expenses which might totally ruin an e-Commerce business.

A full-scale scam is less common, but probable. There are e-Commerce merchants who are fooled into traps and scams by simply looking at the cheapest prices and rates and clicking the links to the providers’ websites. After filling in a surprisingly short membership form merchants get a higher than usual, but all accounted for, bill. A high deposit rate could be charged in order to ‘suck’ the maximum amount of money without arousing too much suspicion. After having applied, the e-Commerce merchant account provider will usually disappear. E-mails, Skype sessions, ICQ will all fail. Telephone numbers will be wrong, or switched off. The website might state something like “Experiencing Technical Difficulties”. Merchants who fall for a full-scale scam will never see their invested money again.

A backdoor scam is the most difficult scam to accomplish, but is possible. It is also the most effective scam in terms of damage. A backdoor scam involves changing the program code of a gateway in order to provide a backdoor (hole) for a third-party to connect to later on, when the gateway is in use. This exploit may be used for spoofing, i.e. the acquirement of confidential credit card and personal information while it’s being passed through the gateway. This, too, involves a series of decoding algorithms and very professional skills. Credit card processing security is not as futile as it may seem, on the contrary, it is very advanced. But a badly-programmed e-Commerce website may make it easier to steal information during the transaction. The backdoor in the gateway may also be used to alter the credit card information, guiding and, eventually, transferring the money to another bank account. There are many more things that professionals can do with a backdoor, but there is just one simple rule – avoid scammers.

How does one avoid scammers? The answer may seem an easy one. But even the most respected e-Commerce merchant account providers may sometimes scam. The simple steps to take in each case in order to avoid e-Commerce merchant account fraud and credit card processing service scammers are:

  1. NEVER visit sub-domain hosted e-Commerce merchant service provider websites. i.e. if the website name contains something like it’s a 95% scam. Scammers often close their websites after having fooled a few customers, so it proves to be rather expensive having to pay over and over again for every new domain. Visiting a webname type decreases the probability of stumbling upon a scam website.
  2. ALWAYS read carefully through the price lists and ask for the full contract to examine before signing up. It is also recommended to ask and insist on being provided with ALL additional and extra charges applied by the account providing company and the processing bank. Make sure to double-check and cross-checks all the suspiciously low rates by mailing the staff.
  3. TRY to read some reviews on forums, message boards, blogs, and articles on specialized websites about a specific provider. Having read through ratings and comments you will have an idea on what to expect from the provider.
  4. TRY NOT to go beyond Google’s third page when looking for a merchant account. If a provider’s page is in Google’s Top then it means that the provider’s website is well-rated, frequently visited, and trusted. There may, of course, be good providers in the ‘depths’ of, but the chances of visiting a scam website increase.
  5. If you’re UNSURE whether your gateway is secure or not request the assistance of your credit card processing bank. Their professionals will scan your gateway for traces of third-party activity and fix any holes that may be there.
  6. ON THE WHOLE, it is important to look carefully through the website. Pay attention to the content, articles, FAQs, etc. The more quality – the better. Design could tell you much too, if there’s a sloppily picked color scheme – then probably the site was made too rapidly and carelessly. Just look around and think.

here are other in-depth rules, but the above are basic ones that may guarantee a 99% scam-free experience when looking for and searching for an e-Commerce merchant account provider. Be safe and choose the right e-Commerce merchant account for you.

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