Err on the Side of Caution: Nonprofits and Virtual Credit Cards

June 23, 2016

A jarring amount of 17.6 million people (7% of Americans) had at least one incident of identity theft in 2014, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Unfortunately some of that identity theft can come from third parties, including criminals accessing business accounts to get information about consumers. Nonprofits, small businesses and large corporate companies can all be at risk without a proper protection plan.

In the case of nonprofits, fundraising for charities may also be affected without a secure nonprofit processing system. One questionable online merchant can lead to access of a nonprofit’s bank or credit union account information, credit or debit card numbers, Social Security numbers (linked to employees of the nonprofit services). In a tech world where “password” continues to be a common password for both individuals and companies, a lucky guess can expose an entire company’s important documents.

Virtual credit cards are one continuously effective way to protect company financial information. Some of the biggest perks of virtual credit cards include:

• Flexibility to not release vital credit card information from lesser known companies
• Ability to set a maximum spending amount
• Specifying an expiration date for the virtual card
• Shopping safely online with what looks like a regular merchant card number
• Potential cash rebates

The owner(s) and accountant(s) of any company may already be aware of the amount of record-keeping involved in making sure that all involved parties receive their paychecks, reimbursements, supplies and any other applicable expenses. However, nonprofit processing has the added requirement of being able to explain all purchases and payments made for a humanitarian or environmental cause. Unlike for-profit companies, which benefit the founder and however many employees work for the organization, funds for charities ideologically make a full circle into supplies for education, first aid, food, shelter, water and other things associated with the organization’s focus.

So even one questionable purchase, or suspicious merchant, can hurt the reputation of a nonprofit. This is the exact reason why nonprofit processing should incorporate virtual credit cards into its billing options for charities. While some companies have already tried to make online purchases easier by using trusted sites like PayPal, a company may still be at risk of password break-ins.

An email site that isn’t secure, unattended mailboxes (where bank statements may be found), dumpster diving, malware and fake clone sites (spoof) could put a nonprofit at risk of releasing private financial account information. By using a virtual credit card, if an identity theft occurs, it gives the hacker less information to work with.

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Categories: Nonprofit, Payment Processing, Security, Virtual Credit Cards

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