It’s important as a business to make sure you’re trying to follow best practices; especially when you’re working on your business’s security.

It’s important for MSPs to follow best practices; especially when you’re working on your business’ security. One of the biggest oversights you can make pertains to how you handle payment and credit information. That data creates a significant risk for IT services companies.

There’s a cost to those who mishandle that information, including harm to their corporate image, customer loss, and other potential financial and legal consequences (i.e., lawsuits, fines for regulatory non-compliance). If your company is not doing everything possible to keep its clients’ financial information secure, your reputation and very livelihood could be at risk.

Security is always a bit of a moving target. However, when it comes to handling payments, there are a couple of business practices that privacy and data protection experts no longer recommend that you and your clients should know.

One of the biggest changes is to stop accepting checks as a form of payment. Those information-rich papers are not safe for you or your clients. In fact, according to security experts, it might be the least secure payment method for exchanging money and completing business transactions.

Why paper checks are risky

It would take hours to list all the problems that come to those who write and accept paper checks. Let’s focus on the main business concerns for MSPs and their clients.

Paper checks include a lot of personal information that, the wrong hands, can have dangerous implications for your clients. They contain a variety of information that could compromise their privacy and security, including account and routing numbers that anyone could copy down and use for fraudulent purposes.

Checks are also pretty simple to forge. Someone with rudimentary photoshop and copying skills could easily replicate these forms that have barely changed over the past 30 years. Compromising your clients’ bank account information won’t take much effort ‒ all it takes is one opportunist with bad intentions with access to a single check.

These payments also tend to go through a lot of hands on the way to the bank. Clients’ checks may be delivered through the mail, dropped on your front desk, passed along to the accounting department, and may sit for a while before being processed, deposited, and (hopefully) shredded.

Every minute of delay increases the risk. Anyone entering the office (including cleaning crews, contractors, visitors, etc.) could swipe a check or quickly write down your clients’ account information.

When you start thinking about all the ways someone could easily steal that small piece of paper, you begin to doubt the security of these payment transactions. There are much safer and faster ways for your MSP to get paid.

Security experts don’t recommend paper checks

There are a lot of reasons for concern. While checks are one of the oldest forms of payment ‒ other than cash and precious metals (such as gold and silver), the latest transaction options are more secure.

Fraud experts are sounding the alarm on the safety of checks. Frank Abagnale, the former master-criminal and check-forger, who later became FBI security consultant, points out a few of the problems.

“I personally write very few checks. Here’s the reason: if I write a check at Walgreens or CVS, I’m leaving that behind with the clerk. And on that has my name, address, phone number, my bank’s name, and address, my bank account number, routing number, and my signature. And if that store clerk writes down my driver’s license on the front of the check, in nine states—including the one I live in—that’s my Social Security number, too. Then, next to it he writes my date of birth.”

Your company’s image is everything. If your business accepts paper checks and someone captures and misuses your clients’ account information, it will cause significant damage to your reputation.

Not only does that payment process feel outdated, but your customers have to hope their payment doesn’t go missing in the mail or something doesn’t happen after delivery. Having their account information copied and their bank account drained won’t be good for business.

There are lots of other ways checks are risky, but what we mentioned above are some of the main concerns. Fraud experts warn of the security risks of checks. Frank Abagnale, the former check forger, turned American security consultant, points out the problems with checks.

“I personally write very few checks. Here’s the reason: if I write a check at Walgreens or CVS, I’m leaving that check behind with the clerk. And on that check is my name, address, phone number, my bank’s name, and address, my bank account number, routing number, and my signature. And if that store clerk writes down my driver’s license on the front of the check, in nine states—including the one I live in—that’s my Social Security number, too. Then, next to it he writes my date of birth.” Frank Abagnale.

Your image is everything, and you can damage your image if your business keeps accepting paper checks and someone nabs your clients account information. Not only does it feel outdated, but your clients have to hope that their check doesn’t go missing on the way to your business, or have their account information copied and their account drained.

Not only does that payment process feel outdated, but your customers have to hope their payment doesn’t go missing in the mail or something doesn’t happen after delivery. Having their account information copied and their bank account drained won’t be good for business.

Better options are available

Paper checks elevate the risks for both you and your clients. With that in mind, many MSPs may not want to pay extra to accept and process credit cards. The good news is it’s relatively easy to sign up for a secure payment gateway solution for ACH transactions.

That switch makes it impossible for anyone in your business to access clients’ bank account and routing information. Those funds can be quickly deposited instead of waiting for checks to arrive via the mail and go through the manual transaction process.

There are easier and more secure ways for your clients to pay their bills. Checks are risky, simple for forgers to copy, and have a higher chance of being lost en route. The sooner your clients have a better option for paying your invoice, such as a secure payment gateway, the quicker you can lower your mutual risks.

Want to see how secure accepting payments can be? Contact us for a demo, and give your clients the peace of mind their payment information is protected.