1. What is PCI-DSS (payment card industry data security standards)?
This is an annual certification required of every merchant who accepts credit cards. The merchant is certifying that when they accept and process a credit card transaction they do so in a secure environment that protects the integrity of the card data. The certification process asks about the security settings of your transmittal system (POS machine, mobile swipe, virtual terminal).
Unless you are a skilled IT person the questionnaire can be quite daunting. Most processors provide a service that will complete the certification for you at an annual cost of approximately $75.00 to $80.00. The cost of non-compliance can be as high as $40.00 per month. Because your time is so valuable, LawCharge provides certification services with no mark up on the cost.
2. What is the EMV chip card?
Europay MasterCard Visa is the ‘chip’ card now in use to further prevent counterfeit fraud when transmitting a card transaction. It is more secure than the familiar magnetic strip because it is more deeply encrypted. It creates unique data for each transaction on that card. The EMV chip card shifts fraud liability to the least compliant party.
Because of the way we practice, fraudulent transactions are extremely rare for law practices. Most of your transactions will be ‘card not present’ keyed transactions. While you will usually be able to swipe the card at the initial consult or signing of the engagement/fee Agreement, most other transactions will be for client bill payment. You can purchase a USB swipe for your computer but our experience is that it will get little use.
3. I’ve managed this long without them, why should I accept credit cards now?
More and more people are relying on credit cards for their business and personal expenses. Many may not have the available cash to pay your retainer or fee. You need to stay ahead of your competition and offer your clients their choice of payment options or they may go to someone who can accommodate them.
4. How do I begin accepting credit cards?
First, you need a merchant account. The merchant account is where your transactions will be deposited. This can be both you general operating or trust checking account. You do not need to change banks or open another account.
Law Charge will set this up for you. Once we receive your completed application you can begin accepting credit cards within 1-3 business days.
5. What are the costs associated with accepting credit cards?
There are certain fees you will find with any processor:
a. Discount Fee: This is a percentage of the transaction amount. It covers the costs of ‘moving the money’ from the cardholder’s account to your merchant account through the Federal Reserve’s Automated Clearing House (ACH).
b. Transaction Fee: This is the fee charged for obtaining the authorization to deposit the funds to your account. It is usually between .20 and .50 cents per transaction.
c. Set- up fees and equipment: Depending upon the type of processing you choose you may be charged a set-up fee or be required to purchase or lease equipment or software. Law Charge does not require you to purchase software and highly discourages the leasing of equipment as it is not cost effective.
6. When are the funds transferred to my account?
The funds will post to your account within 24-48 business hours (1-2 business days).
7. Can I accept all credit cards?
You will be able to accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and Debit cards.
8. Will I be locked into a long-term contract?
Not at all. You are free to cancel at any time. There are no contract terms or cancellation fees.
9. Do I get a monthly accounting of my transactions?
Yes, you will receive a monthly statement showing all of the credit card activity in your merchant accounts. If you process through our Internet Virtual Terminal you can also check your activity on line for up to 6 months.
10. What if I get a Chargeback?
First and foremost if a chargeback were to occur the fees would be debited from your general/operating account, NOT your trust account even if that was where the initial deposit was made. Chargebacks are actually pretty rare. The few that our attorney’s have had are usually a result of miscommunication regarding a refund.LawCharge will assist the attorney – merchant in resolving the disputed issue.
11. How do I validate the credit card charge in a dispute?
Law Charge can provide you with model language to add to your fee agreements and billing statements supporting the authorization of the charge.
12. What about a bad check from a client – can you help me with those?
We can provide you with check verification and conversion services as well as check guarantee services.