As consumers, most of us prefer to use digital, card-based, or online payments for our retail purchases because they are convenient and secure. Using checks for everyday transactions is just no longer the norm. There is no reason this should be any different for law firm clients. Customers assume and expect that they should be able to pay for professional services using the same payment methods they use for retail stores. Therefore, digital payments have become a business necessity for law firms and independent attorneys alike.
As mentioned in one of our previous articles, the ability for customers to pay with credit cards or online helps not only better manage accounts receivable processes, but also get paid faster. Efficiency and increased cash flow are the main drivers for implementing new payment systems in your law firm. However, the rules and regulations for the security of payments and customer data that other companies regulate are getting even stricter when it comes to the legal industry. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the five most important tips for securely supporting digital payments in your legal transaction.
Different rules and regulations apply to law firms operating in different jurisdictions. In relation to payments, it is usually mandatory to adhere to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). A third party may be hired to check your PCI compliance. To ensure PCI compliance, procedures must be established to protect files containing sensitive information. In Europe, you need to ensure that your payment service provider complies with the GDPR requirements outlined in this infographic.
Online system security
If you are building an online integrated system that will accept payments for your business, you need to ensure that the system is hosted in a secure environment. Small businesses often overlook the security issue and think they are not under attack, but small hackers are more likely to target them for the same reason. Make sure that the hosting provider has the correct practices and safeguards in place for the system. Also make sure that the site is protected by Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to encrypt the data exchange between the system and external parties.
In order to fully integrate the digital payment culture into your company or organization, all employees, especially those responsible for payment processing, must be trained in the necessary security measures. Simple steps like password-protected devices, secure and updated software, using VPNs, securing USBs and other storage in the workplace, etc., can go a long way in protecting customer data.
Two-factor authentication is the recommended best practice used by both parties when making payments. This protects against data loss and fraudulent transactions due to identity theft. Customers need to secure their online and mobile payment transactions using two-factor authentication. Online systems that accept payment must ensure that the data required for two-factor authentication is collected and verified for each new customer in the form of cell phone numbers, email IDs or biometric information depending on the payment method.
In terms of payments, there is no real need to store customer account information or card details long term. The best way to protect customer data is to avoid storing it in cases when it is not needed. In situations where it needs to be stored, it should be encrypted and stored on a private network with restricted access for authorized personnel. A trusted third-party payment partner can be hired to ensure the collection and transfer of payments and the storage of the required payment data.
It is certainly an advantage for any customer-oriented company to think of the customer’s needs first. Digital payments in all their forms, whether contactless cards or online payments, offer customers a convenient alternative for doing business. The responsibility for the security of the implementation of the payment system lies in the business. Therefore, it is recommended that you use industry best practices as detailed above when implementing the latest digital payments technology in your company.