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How To Detect Fraudulent Activity on Your Merchant Account

Posted By Gabriel Salcido, Arizona Small Business Association, Thursday, July 23, 2015

Credit card fraud is on the rise as thieves develop even more inventive ways of stealing financial data for unauthorized purchases. The introduction of EMV credit cards is helping to prevent fraudulent activity within brick-and-mortar retail environments. However, in the online world, the security features that come with these chip-enabled cards offer limited protection.

As a result, experts predict that Web-based credit card fraud could reach $6.4 billion by 2018.

Some payment processors offer fraud protection to help limit your liability. Though a far more cost-effective solution is to prevent credit card fraud from happening in the first place. Because even when charges are reversed, you still pay a price in terms of:

  • Lost time
  • Extra paperwork
  • Diminished consumer confidence

These hidden costs are sometimes three times more than the dollar amount of whatever fraud took place.

Below are some best practices you can adopt to limit the amount of fraud that occurs within your payment environment:

1. Basic Fraud Detection Steps

"Card not present" transactions are the norm in e-commerce. You simply have to trust that the true holder of the card is authorizing each transaction. However, you can still ask for information that potential hackers might not have, including:

Address Verification

In addition to the 16-digit credit card number, you should also request a working address for each transaction. More specifically, you should verify the following:

  • Does the billing address match the contact information provided by the card-issuing bank?
  • Is the customer trying to use a different shipping address (if ordering physical items)?


Card Verification Value (CVV)

Most consumer credit cards come with a three or four-digit value that allows you to verify whether the card is truly present. Don’t authorize any transactions unless the customer can provide the correct CVV code.

2. Country-Specific Transactions

With more advanced payment processing solutions, you can use country-specific IP filters to block or accept certain transactions:

Geo IP Tracking

This option allows you to automatically reject transactions from whichever countries you choose. For example, you can eliminate all purchases made from France, Japan or Canada.

Card Issuing Country

With "card issuing country" filters, you have even greater control. This feature allows you to only accept a payment if the card was issued in countries that you specifically select. For example, your account only allows purchases made with French, Japanese or Canadian credit cards.

3. Advanced Fraud Detection Features

There are times when thieves do have the right address and CVV code, and using proxies, they can circumvent traditional IP-detection.

This is when you need to rely on more advanced security features:

Negative Database Security

Similar to spam detection, negative database security allows you to match each transaction against a list of high-risk card numbers and contact information.

Quotas and Thresholds

Set up your payment environment to only accept transactions above and below a certain amount. Anything outside of this range automatically gets rejected.

Unusual Buying Patterns

Limit the number of transactions that can take place within a certain timeframe. With some "velocity" filters, you can even flag certain IP addresses and dollar amounts to gain more control.

Paused Transactions

Using a variety of filters, you can automatically put a hold on suspicious transactions. This is particularly useful for big-ticket items — especially when dealing with conveniently round numbers. Don't let these transactions go through until you've had a chance to contact the cardholder directly.

Looking for More Fraud Detection Tips?

At BluePay, we specialize in online payment security. With our advanced processing solutions, we can help you detect and prevent online fraud before it happens.

To learn more, schedule a free appointment with our payment security team today.

Tags:  financing  fradulent  MERCHANT SERVICES  protection 

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Seven Tips to Help You Determine if Your Gift is Taxable

Posted By Rhette Baughman, Arizona Small Business Association, Wednesday, April 1, 2015

If you gave money or property to someone as a gift, you may wonder about the federal gift tax. Many gifts are not subject to the gift tax. Here are seven tax tips about gifts and the gift tax.

1. Nontaxable Gifts. The general rule is that any gift is a taxable gift. However, there are exceptions to this rule. The following are not taxable gifts:

  • Gifts that do not exceed the annual exclusion for the calendar year,
  • Tuition or medical expenses you paid directly to a medical or educational institution for someone,
  • Gifts to your spouse (for federal tax purposes, the term "spouse” includes individuals of the same sex who are lawfully married),
  • Gifts to a political organization for its use, and
  • Gifts to charities.

2. Annual Exclusion. Most gifts are not subject to the gift tax. For example, there is usually no tax if you make a gift to your spouse or to a charity. If you give a gift to someone else, the gift tax usually does not apply until the value of the gift exceeds the annual exclusion for the year. For 2014 and 2015, the annual exclusion is $14,000.

3. No Tax on Recipient. Generally, the person who receives your gift will not have to pay a federal gift tax. That person also does not pay income tax on the value of the gift received.

4. Gifts Not Deductible. Making a gift does not ordinarily affect your federal income tax. You cannot deduct the value of gifts you make (other than deductible charitable contributions).

5. Forgiven and Certain Loans. The gift tax may also apply when you forgive a debt or make a loan that is interest-free or below the market interest rate.

6. Gift-Splitting. You and your spouse can give a gift up to $28,000 to a third party without making it a taxable gift. You can consider that one-half of the gift be given by you and one-half by your spouse.

7. Filing Requirement. You must file Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, if any of the following apply:

  • You gave gifts to at least one person (other than your spouse) that amount to more than the annual exclusion for the year.
  • You and your spouse are splitting a gift. This is true even if half of the split gift is less than the annual exclusion.
  • You gave someone (other than your spouse) a gift of a future interest that they can’t actually possess, enjoy, or from which they’ll receive income later.
  • You gave your spouse an interest in property that will terminate due to a future event.

To find out more see Publication 559, Survivors, Executors, and Administrators. You can view, download and print tax products on anytime.

This series is brought to you by the Southwest Area Stakeholder Liaison Team covering Arizona, New Mexico & Texas. It is designed for you to share with anyone who will find the information useful. We are interested to hear if you think this information is helpful. Please provide your feedback or topic request to us at and include "Workshop Wednesday” in the subject line.

To access previous editions, click here: Workshop Wednesday Archive links

Small business owners, especially new sole proprietors, can find a wealth of information covering their federal tax responsibilities on The SB/SE Tax Center is the "Go To” page for everything small business.

Tags:  donations  gifts  IRS  taxes 

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4 Tips For Managing Strategic Shifts

Posted By Debi Cobb, Cobb CPA PC, Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A basketball player recognizes their original route to the basket has been blocked: what do they do? Easy- without a second thought, they pivot and shift strategies, rerouting themselves onto the quickest and easiest route to the basket. Two points!

When it comes to obstacles in the original plan, Arizona small business owners need to act with the same grace, coordination and speed as a trained athlete does, taking in the scenario and shifting strategies with deft ability.

The art of the strategy shift is in changing the course while still moving towards the original goal. It’s not about abandoning ship. It’s all about evolution.

Sometimes the biggest challenge in this scenario is actually recognizing the need for a strategy shift.

Small businesses must constantly challenge themselves, evolving and pushing the envelope in the quest to stay relevant.

When a strategy shift becomes obvious, consider these tips:

1. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the business. Listing out these factors will help in determining which strategies stay and which are in need of a change.

2. Start the conversation and ignite innovation on all levels. Be wary not to alarm employees of a potential stall in business but encourage them to discuss the competition and the obstacles in order to foster a think tank.

3. Evaluate threats and competition by talking to customers and employees.

4. Once identified, study the potential strategy shifts that would address the current threats. There will always be more than one route- consider all options and their ramifications.

Once you have reached this step it means a change is blowing in the wind. At this point it is time to map it out. Details are your friend at this step - how will this shift affect process, profits, costs, brand, team structure, and culture?

Decided on your move? Now put on your sales hat and get ready to sell that shift to your team. You need all hands on deck to implement strategy shifts.

Be sensitive to the effects of the change on your client base. Ensure that you include your long-term clients in the change process so they do not feel shocked by the new practices.

A plan of action that includes:

  • Tasks
  • Deadlines
  • Communication
  • Goals

Having a plan will assist along the bumpy road of shifting strategies for your Arizona business.

For more help with creating a new business strategy, join us for our monthly PERFORMING U workshops by registering at our Events Page at  .

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2014 Business Tax Organizer Just For You!

Posted By Debi Cobb, Cobb CPA PC, Friday, January 16, 2015


Specializing in Business & Tax Planning for Small Business Owners

Goodbye 2014...Hello 2015!

Whether you are Limited Liability Companies, S Corporations, C Corporations or Sole Proprietor, it is time to button up your 2014 tax returns.

CLICK BELOW to access our 2014 Business Tax Organizer

It will help you:

  • Organize 2014 Tax Returns
  • Understand Which Documents to Retain
  • Understand New IRS Policies
  • Learn the Changes in the Tax Compliance landscape

Filling out these important documents and booking an appointment 45 days before the deadline will create the best results and peace of mind on March 15th (Corporate Tax Returns due) and April 15th (Partnership Tax Returns are due).

This organizer will help business owners:

  • Be prepared
  • Be on time
  • Resolve any issues ahead of time

If you are an ASBA member and are in need of tax advice or interested in learning more about our Performance University, check out our website or give us a call!

We are here to help, you so as always, so please call us with any other questions you may have (480) 517-0988.

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Home Improvement Resolutions for the New Year

Posted By Vaunda Reese, Liberty Mutual, Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Liberty Mutual Insurance is proud to partner with Arizona Small Business Association to provide you with relevant auto and home safety tips for the way you live today.


Home Improvement Resolutions for the New Year


Improving things around your home can make your whole year happier and more comfortable. Here are a few do-it-yourself ideas to get your New Year’s resolution list started.

Focus on one room. Resolve to fix up just one room this year and give it your total attention. It can be as easy as replacing one old piece of furniture or hanging up some new artwork. Even tackling small home maintenance projects like cleaning out one drawer or cabinet each weekend will add up to a feeling of accomplishment.

Become more energy efficient with a programmable thermostat. Installing a programmable thermostat will help you save money. Program it to automatically lower your house temperature by 5 to 10 degrees while you're out, and again at night when you're sleeping.

Change your window treatments seasonally. Switch your window treatments to heavier drapes during colder weather to provide insulation and energy efficiency. Use sheer or lightweight curtains when the weather is warmer to give the room a lighter feel and allow more airflow.

Adorn your home with plants. Houseplants can absorb toxic substances in the air and release oxygen, helping to purify your home. NASA has even studied house plants as a means of purifying the air in space stations.

Commit to greening your home. Take a walk around your house and survey for opportunities to “green” your space. Switch to energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFL) bulbs, look for areas that are drafty and add installation or weather stripping, and set up a recycling station in your garage to help reduce waste. These small updates can add up to energy savings in the long run, too.


To learn more about Liberty Mutual Auto and Home Insurance or get a free, no-obligation quote, call Vaunda Reese at (623) 572-4440 Ext. 56477 or visit Liberty Mutual.


Coverage underwritten and provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and its affiliates, 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116. Reprinted with permission from Liberty Mutual. ©2014 Liberty Mutual Insurance

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Tags:  Employee Benefits  Home  Insurance  Liberty Mutual  Safety 

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