3 Tips For Choosing A Payment Gateway: Collecting Money Online

As a consumer, when you check out of your local convenience store, you may swipe your credit card through a point-of-sale device and your gas, coffee, and donut are paid. But what if you are the retailer and your business is online? It’s not like you have a card-swiping device at every customer’s PC! There must be a way for you to process that information. Essentially, that is the job that a payment gateway does for online retailers. Roy Banks, president of, a leader in the payment gateway industry, describes his company’s function as “the digital version of a hardware point of sale terminal.”

What is a Payment Gateway?

Payment gateways allow online merchants such as eStore owners or auction sellers to accept credit card payments over the internet. They authorize the cardholder’s credit—that is, they check to ensure that the customer has enough money on their credit card to cover the charges. They then place a hold on that amount so the buyer can’t turn around and spend that same money elsewhere before it gets transferred to the retailer’s merchant account. Banks describes this as “the technology…necessary to consummate a payment transaction.”

A Payment Gateway is NOT a Merchant Account

Many people confuse merchant accounts with payment gateways but they are not the same. Merchant account services act, for the most part, as a liaison between your business bank account and the payment gateway. When a customer orders a product from your online business their card is processed via the payment gateway. The money is then moved over to the merchant account service. The merchant account service then moves those newly captured funds to your business bank account.

3 Tips for choosing a Payment Gateway:

1.  Is it PCI-compliant?

That means that the company’s security has been audited by a third party and found to be up to industry standards. Since payment gateways store all your customers’ credit card information (sparing you the stress), it also means you can sleep better at night, knowing your customers’ valuable information is safe and sound.

2.  Good customer support

Enough said.

3.  Lastly, it is important that the payment gateway you choose be integrated to the third-party solutions you are planning to use

That means things like store front platforms and shopping carts—you want them to be compatible with your gateway.

Payment gateways will not only allow you to collect the monies from your sales, many also offer an array of security features, some of which will help you avoid becoming a victim of fraudulent orders! In the end, they will make your ecommerce business a less-stressful, more pleasant experience—for both you and your customers.

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The Most Common Types of Online Scams

The Most Common Types of Online Scams

The internet can be a blessing for most of us, but there are some cybercriminals who threaten to ruin its usefulness for shopping and information gathering by trying to scam unsuspecting online victims. There are a number of common scams to watch out for. Here are seven of the main ones.

1. Phishing

Phishing is when a cybercriminal contacts you to try to get you to hand over your personal information or money. It might also try to get you to download a virus that infects your computer with malware or opens up a back door so they can steal sensitive data such as your usernames, passwords, account numbers and so on. Phishing happens most often via email, but it can also happen over the phone, via text, and on social media.

In particular, beware of online quizzes on social media. They will often try to get your passwords by asking you common questions so they can then guess your passwords in order to access your accounts and so on. Many people base their passwords on birthdays, children and pet names, and so on, so beware.

Phishing emails usually look legitimate, but pay attention to any landing page you might be sent to. They will usually try to make the site appear the same as the original, such as PayPal, but comparing the two side by side will usually demonstrate which is the scam.

2. Keystroke Software

One form of malware captures all your keystrokes, so it can pretty much log every site you go to, your username, and password. This could be a real disaster in terms of identity theft and money being stolen.

3. Sad Nigerians

Believe it or not, this scam still works on some people. It usually involves an email from a desperate Nigerian asking for help in getting a large amount of money from the bank. Those who get hooked in pay small amounts to get paperwork for the transaction and then finally get the money, but all they are doing is putting money in someone else’s bank account, and possibly even revealing their sensitive financial information.

The scam relies on greed and getting lots of money for very little effort, so remember – if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

4. Greeting Card Scams

There are lots of free greeting card sites online, but they can be very dangerous. The images can carry malware that will attack the recipient’s computer and it will often open up a Trojan horse for them to get more information. If you do have to send an eCard, use a reputable site and watch out for spoof sites, such as clones of

5. Great Loan, Credit Card and Re-Fi Offers

These also play upon greed and/or desperation, especially when people are struggling financially. But no reputable bank is going to send you these offers via email. And if you have a bad credit score, there is also no way you would be offered the best deals, which are reserved for the best customers.

6. Lottery and Contest Scams

These have also been around for some time and still fool people. The email tells you that you are a winner and need to pay a small fee to get your cash or prize.

7. Ransomware

This is a very dangerous scam that is hard to overcome. The ransomware locks your computer until you pay them in bitcoin. The longer you wait to pay, the more money they ask for. So far, even top computer security pros have not been able to restore data or track down the criminals. Note that if you have a backup hard drive connected to your computer, the ransomware can lock that up as well. Back up all your data in a reliable cloud storage system and avoid clicking on anything that does not look legitimate.

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Online Shopping Scams

Online Shopping Scams

Everyone loves to get bargains and enjoys life being as convenient as possible. Online shopping can offer both. However, it can also be a double-edged sword due to the number of online shopping scams that have sprung up. Here are several to keep an eye on.

1. Copied Sites

Many name brands’ sites are being copied in order to trick shoppers into buying from them instead of getting the real deal from the genuine site. At best, you might end up with knockoffs from China. At worst, you might have your identity stolen. Knockoffs cost companies almost one trillion dollars a year, so check out the sites you shop at carefully to make sure they are real.

2. Huge Discounts

Sites that offer huge discounts all the time are suspect because brand-name goods should sell for more and these supposed bargains are more than likely either knockoffs, or lures to spend money but no goods will ever be delivered. Go to Google Shopping to compare prices and then shop around until you find the right item. Avoid the bargain basement — you get what you pay for.

3. A Bad Website

If you see spelling and grammar errors and the whole site looks like it has been thrown together, this is not a site you should be shopping at.

4. Not a Secure Socket Layer (SSL)

Sites with https:// in front of them have an SSL certificate, which is a higher level of security than a regular website. Most scam sites will not bother to get certified.

5. Suspicious Domain Names

In terms of URLs, the brand name and .com extension are preferred and usually a sign of a legitimate site. However, many new extensions have become available, meaning scammers can use the brand names for a time until they are eventually caught. Extensions such as .net, .us, .info and more are all used to create sites that look like the real ones, but aren’t.

6. The Site Was Just Created

Search for the URL at and check the creation date. If it is recent, chances are the site has been started for the express purpose of scamming unsuspecting shoppers.

7. They Don’t Accept Credit or Debit Card Payments

Beware of any site that requires you to pay by wire transfer, pre-paid gift cards, bitcoin or other cryptocurrency. These are not secure methods and in most cases, you will not be able to get your money back.

8. They Ask For Too Much Personal Information

No site should ask you for your social security number or other details that could be used to steal your identity.

9. Their Physical Mailing Address Is Not Legitimate

Thanks to Google and, you can pretty much find any address in the world, see a map of it, and get a Google satellite image of it. If the address does not exist, or the building looks suspicious, don’t shop at that site.

10. No Clear Terms for Doing Business with Them

The site should have terms of service and a refund policy. The refund policy should usually be to refund in full within 30 days. Some states, like Florida, give only 20 days. Full details should be provided on how to return the item and get the refund. Beware of charges like credit card transaction fees and restocking fees, which can take a big bite out of your refund.

11. Bad Reviews

Type in the name of the site or the product you are thinking of buying, and then add the word “scam”. Take seriously all the feedback you find before doing business with that site.

12. Delivery Problems on EBay and Amazon Marketplace

Beware of individual sellers who don’t send your goods. They have either mixed up their inventory levels, or they are running a scam.

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Eight Things to Watch Out For When Booking a Holiday Online

Eight Things to Watch Out For When Booking a Holiday Online

Everyone loves to get a bargain when it comes to traveling, but some deals come with fine print that can actually make you end up paying more. You can also fall victim to sites selling bogus flights and package holidays if you don’t use one of the more popular travel sites.

1, Fake Package Holidays and Bookings

Millions of pounds are stolen every year by fake package holiday firms. They take the money, don’t make the bookings promised, and disappear. In other cases, the booking company might charge one amount of money, but the travelers get billed for a second amount when they get to the hotel. This might include taxes, fees, surcharges, and a booking fee from the service used.

2. Low Fare Lures

Some sites lure you with low fares by showing only the rock-bottom best price on offer. However, many factors affect the fare, such as day of the week, time of day, airport hubs, time of the year, and so on. And you can’t possibly expect to pay a low fare during peak travel times such as Christmas or summer vacations.

The site will lead you through the booking process all the way to the end, when you will click to see your final price. It can be a real shock, and of course, this whole process is a complete waste of time.

3. Email Scams

Emails will often take you to phishing sites that will try to collect personal data which they can then use for identity theft.

4. Fake Travel Vouchers

With this scam, you buy a voucher for a certain low price and are supposed to cash it in for a ticket whenever you like. Most of these vouchers are fake.

5. The All-Inclusive Package Holiday That Isn’t

Travelers need to watch out for this one, even at reputable sites. If you are booking a flight and hotel, you might think you are getting a great deal, only to find that the accommodation only covers the first night at the hotel. The site is accepting the booking even though there is limited or no room availability for all the dates you plan to stay.

Read the fine print and check all the dates carefully before you hit the Buy button. Otherwise you could end up with no room and have to pay the going rate to put a roof over your head for the rest of the stay.

6. Auction Sites

These may seem like a great way to get a good deal, but final costs and fees can make it more expensive than just buying it from a reputable travel site.

7. Block Bookings

Some companies buy up plane seats and hotel rooms at rock-bottom prices and then try to sell them for the highest price possible. If you have no real choice and have to travel on a particular date, this can end up costing you a small fortune.

8. Timeshares

Seeing isn’t always believing. You might see what looks to be a gorgeous timeshare, only to find it is a dump when you go for the first time. Also, keep in mind that other sharers may have a very different standard of cleanliness and behavior to yours, leaving you with a total mess to deal with at the start of what should have been a fun vacation.

Everyone looks forward to their holidays, so don’t miss out by falling for one of these scams.

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