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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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.