Guarantee Secure Credit Transactions Before you Swipe that Card

By Bob Carr Chairman & CEO, Heartland Payment Systems | October 28, 2008

There's no denying that credit card fraud is on the rise. A 2007 report from the Association for Payments Professionals found 72 percent of 3,000 members surveyed had been victims of actual or attempted fraud in 2006. That's up from 68 percent in 2005.

Unfortunately, 80 percent of data compromises originate through small merchants-those generating less than 20,000 e-commerce transactions or a million total transactions annually-according to Visa USA.

These smaller merchants - such as independently owned hotels -- don't always have the technology to provide the secure systems needed in today's increasingly risky financial world. Worse, many hotel owners dismiss the problem because they think they are protected by their merchant acquirers. But they are not.

Indeed, as payment technology becomes more sophisticated, so do hackers' and thieves' methods for stealing sensitive information. And the results can be disastrous for any business, regardless of size.

For example, Massachusetts-based TJX Companies Inc., the world's leading off-price apparel and home fashions retailer, experienced a major customer credit and debit card data breach last January. It turned out to be the most expensive cybercrime ever recorded, with over 45.6 million customer credit and debit card numbers stolen.

Besides $150 million in breach costs, the company now faces FTC investigations, over a dozen lawsuits, with some litigation seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages. Analysts project the breach could ultimately cost TJX anywhere from $500 million to nearly $1 billion in expenses.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.