Securing Your Patients’ Credit Card Information

You are most likely aware that credit cards are moving toward secure payments using chip technology. The secure technology is known as EMV (Euro, MasterCard, Visa), and since EMV will impact your dental practice, it’s important to be prepared.

In the past when a patient paid with a credit card, you simply swiped the magnetic strip of the card and a full 16 digit card number was stored in the transaction system. If the patient used the same credit card to pay for groceries or gas, the same 16 digit card number was stored in the respective transaction system of each business.

As we unfortunately know from numerous news reports, businesses are vulnerable to hackers who can get into the Point of Sale Systems (or your dental software systems) that store those 16 digit numbers. When a hacker has that 16 digit credit card number, the hacker can charge fraudulent transactions to the account.

That led to the adoption of EMV and smart chip technology. When you pay with a credit card that has chip technology, a unique token is generated and stored in the transaction system (instead of a 16 digit number). This unique token is only relevant for that transaction. Each time you pay with a smart chip credit card, more unique tokens are created—again these tokens are only relevant for the respective transaction. If a hacker breaks into the system, the hacker cannot use the unique tokens.

Since chip embedded credit cards are becoming more commonplace, it’s important to make sure you have EMV compliant hardware and/or terminals. You want your dental patients to know that when your take their credit card payments, their information is as secure as possible—just as you safeguard their protected health information.

As I learned after talking with Michael Aylward of Axia Payments, it’s important to make sure you have EMV compliant technology in place and to assess all of the systems related to securing patient payment information. Since you go the extra mile to build your patients’ confidence with the great services you provide, make sure you also do the same with how your process their credit card payments.

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