Guard Ministry Credit Card Scanners from Scammers

Credit and debit cards can make life more convenient, but one ministry learned that an unsecured credit card machine can allow scam artists to swipe more than just plastic.

A ministry-run thrift store had closed for the night. Thieves carrying two credit cards found their way into the store and put a credit totaling over $5,000 on the cards, leaving the thrift store on the hook for the fraudulent “refunds.” Without the cards’ expiration dates and security codes, investigators will have a difficult time tracking down the culprits.

What Ministries Can Do

Ministries with credit card machines in bookstores, coffee shops, and other locations can take several actions to stay one step ahead of scammers:

  • Limit the number of people with keys to the building containing the credit card scanner.
  • Require a security code for employees or volunteers to enter the building.
  • Limit access to the store’s cash register.
  • Give each employee a unique, secure code to punch in before completing each transaction.
  • Consider an agreement with credit card companies that only authorizes transactions from the credit card terminal during business hours.
  • If the credit card machine is not mounted in place, put it (or its power source, if removable) into a locked compartment during non-business hours. Only managers should have a key to the compartment.
  • Install discreet security cameras.

Thieves will continue to look for ways to target credit card machines, but ministries that stay vigilant can guard their finances from these types of schemes.