What is a Merchant Account and Why Do I need one?
A merchant account allows businesses to accept credit cards as a form of payment, and is set-up with a financial institution. Unlike other services, money collected through your merchant account is automatically deposited into your checking account within 2-3 business days. In order to accept credit card payments using your company name, a merchant account is needed.
What is a Payment Gateway and Why Do I need one?
A Payment Gateway allows you to securely process transactions over the Internet. It is a third-party service that transmits transactions to your payment processor for authorization. A Payment Gateway allows you to offer your customers a safe and secure way of purchasing from you. Authorize.Net is Merchant Focus's preferred payment gateway.
How long does it take to get set-up?
Once your application is submitted it moves into the Underwriting queue to begin review. Generally you are notified within a few days of the initial status on the application. The time it takes will depend on your business model, and response time to any requirements requested by the Underwriting Department.
Do you Pull Credit, and why?
Yes. Anytime you apply for a merchant account your credit is pulled. Documentation is also requested, to verify information provided on the application. Verification of a business and its owner(s) is required in order to obtain a Merchant ID with the Card Brands themselves and for IRS reporting purposes.
How do I gain access to my account online?
You will have access to two online accounts. One through the Authorize.Net Gateway Portal or other Gateway provider, to view settled and unsettled transactions. The other is supplied to you upon approval and will provide you your online processing statements showing all transactions and fees. Statements are available within the first week of each month for the previous months processing history.
What Credit Cards can I accept?
Visa, MasterCard and Discover are automatically set up with your merchant account. American Express may also be accepted but you will select this option when submitting your application. American Express fees may differ from the other credit cards. Our Sales team would gladly discuss this with you.
What is a Chargeback, and how do I resolve it?
A Chargeback occurs when the merchant's sale is disputed by the cardholder for any reason including but not limited to:
- The customer claims they did not receive products or services
- Customer claims their card was used fraudulently
- Merchant will not issue a refund, and the customer has no other recourse
The Card Holders Issuing Bank then notifies our Acquiring Bank that a cardholder is disputing the transaction, and they notify us. We in turn notify the merchant a Chargeback notification and require the merchant to respond immediately to their customer's dispute.
It is up to the Card Issuing Bank, based on their investigation, if we have to give the cardholder their money back. In this case, the funds will be debited from the merchant's checking account and given back to the cardholder.
A customer has up to 6 months from the transaction date to issue a chargeback.
A chargeback fee is assessed to the Merchant regardless of the outcome.
NOTE: This is why is it so IMPORTANT to have excellent "return, warranty, cancellation policies" clearly accessible on your Website in the case of eCommerce transactions.
What can I do to prevent Fraud?
There are numerous things you can set in place to reduce the chances of a fraudulent transaction. For Card Present transactions ask to see a customer's Driver's License and match that to the credit card they are using. For transactions taking place over the phone or through invoicing you can request the customer fill out a credit card authorization form and submit it to you along with a copy of their License. For online transactions a few more measures need to be taken to help prevent fraud. These include but are not limited to:
- Requiring the Bill to and Ship to address be the same within the checkout process and always require the Security Code
- Utilize your Gateways AVS and Fraud protection features
- Review unsettle batches for suspicious information such as email addresses that include letters that don't make words along with a bunch of numbers.
- Consider using a 3rd Party fraud prevention service
These are some suggestions, but certainly not all of them. Educate yourself by reviewing Card Brand websites, reading Blogs, Forums and Articles online about Fraud prevention.
What is PCI Compliance and how do I become Compliant?
In late 2004, Visa and MasterCard announced a new security initiative known as the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard in an effort to standardize industry security requirements for storing, processing and transmitting cardholder data.
Please note that PCI Data Security Standard compliance is a requirement of the card associations no matter how you plan to process transactions. Each Credit Card Processor has their own means of how a merchant becomes compliant. Upon approval of a Merchant Account you will receive notification of this process. There are numerous 3rd Party companies that provide compliance services as well. Your processor will require the Compliance certificate from said 3rd party provider to indicate you are compliant.
Like other industry initiatives, Merchant Focus strongly recommend that you educate yourself about the PCI Data Security Standard and compliance requirements.
For more information about PCI merchant levels and compliance requirements, please see:
What is your Contract length and Cancellation fee?
Please review all Terms and Conditions on the agreement prior to submitting an application.