Newsletter for Spring 2010
May 2010 - Issue 11
In This Issue
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More information about credit cards in this issue. There are new credit card regulations coming from the credit card industry---effective in July. We covered that in our last newsletter (available on our web page if you missed it). The Credit Card Act from the federal government went into effect last February. That has to do with what the card issuers can charge in fees, when they can raise your interest rate, and what they must disclose on your statement. There's also an internet scam involving credit card purchases online. Some companies have been making billions of dollars with this trickery. And Visa is trying to put a stop to it.

Your Personal Credit Cards
The Scam. Credit cards have been in the news a lot lately. There's a new credit card scam that affects internet purchases. According to a 2009 U.S. Senate report, just three companies have made $1.4 billion in revenue using this practice. How does it work? You make your internet purchase and enter your credit card information. Then a window pops up about a different product. You click on it to make it go away and end up purchasing something you didn't want, which often has a monthly recurring charge. It's called "data pass" because the first merchant passes your credit card information to the pop-up.

In an attempt to put a stop to this deceptive practice, Visa just announced plans that will require any merchant accepting their cards to get the credit card information again for the second product. The company hopes that the additional step will give the cardholder a clear signal that they are about to make a second purchase.

The New Law. The new Credit Card Act of 2009 went into effect in February, 2010. The Act limits when interest rates can be changed on existing balances and requires that late fees are "reasonable." But one change that cardholders will actually see is on their monthly statement. It must disclose the amount of time it will take to pay off the balance if only minimum payments are made, and the total amount that would be paid including the amount of interest. It's an eye-opener to see that paying the minimum payment on $3,000 can take 10 years and the interest would be $2,241!

Higher Interest Rates. And we've all heard that the card companies might raise their interest rates and add new charges in advance of the Card Act going into effect. Take a look at your card statement. You might want to shop around a bit for a different card. There's some good information on the internet on web pages like Credit Cards , Card Ratings, and Bank Rate. You can compare fees and interest rates charged by different card issuers. There's advice on how to consolidate card balances and plans for paying off cards. It's a lot of information but it's all in one place and allows you to compare one card against another.

For Travelers. If you travel a lot, one thing to look for is foreign transaction fees. Using your charge card in another country usually comes at a cost, sometimes called a currency conversion fee. But recently many of the card issuers have increased this fee. Visa and Mastercard each charge 1% but most card issuers add their own charge on top of that. If you have a Bank of America Mastercard for example you could be paying a total of 3% on each charge if the business is in another country.

If you have more than one card it's a good idea to check the foreign transaction fee on each one before you make that trip overseas. But these fees are not easy to find. As a matter fact they're so well hidden that you may have to call your card issuer to determine the amount. Currently the Capital One card has no foreign transaction fee---the only one I could find with no charge. Other cards charge up to 3%. It might be better to get cash from the ATM and pay cash for some purchases. But, of course, if you plan to do that, you better check to see what the charge for using an ATM in another country is.
When Your Business Accepts Credit Cards
Element Logo
In our last newsletter we announced a new credit card interface that will make it easier for Space Control users to comply with the new Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. That interface (with Element Payment Services) uses tokenization for recurring monthly payments.

Tokenization is a relatively new concept in the credit card industry, developed specifically for businesses that use credit cards for recurring monthly charges. Being able to charge the customer's card each month means that you must store that number in your office. Whether it's data in a computer or written on a card, you are responsible for protecting that data from hackers and thieves.

The Princess in the Castle. How can tokenization help you? One blogger uses a princess analogy to explain tokenization. The princess is in the castle and the bad guys are trying to kidnap her. You can put bars on the windows, build a moat, surround the castle with soldiers; but the bad guys might still get through. Why not remove the princess from the castle? That's what tokenization does. Instead of trying to protect the credit card information in your office, it removes the sensitive credit card data from your office altogether. And, in the process you reduce the paperwork associated with credit cards under the new Standards by about 70%!

How does it work? When you want to set up an account for recurring charges, Space Control takes you directly to the Element server online. You enter the credit card information there and Element stores it. Element sends back a unique reference pointer for that customer and that is what Space Control uses to make all future payments.

The self-storage business is perfect for recurring monthly payments. With your renter's written permission you save their card number and expiration date. Then Space Control will automatically charge the card when the rent is due (or a few days later if you prefer). For all those renters, your payment is always on time. It's money you can depend on hitting your bank account when it should.

Or ACH. ACH works the same way. The sensitive bank information is stored at Element, but instead of charging your customer's credit card, the payment comes directly out of their bank account. Some business owners prefer ACH because the fees are usually less than those on credit card charges.
Did you know?
... that Space Control can keep an inventory of all the items you sell? If you add your locks, boxes, and moving supplies to the Merchandise part of the Maintenance program and enter the quantity that you have on-hand, Space Control will automatically reduce that quantity each time you sell an item. Put in a reorder number and Space Control will remind you to order more when your inventory is low.

With Merchandise Group you can put together several items and sell them as a package. Make a Moving Package made up of some different sized boxes, tape, bubble-wrap, etc. You set a price for the whole package and, when you sell it, each of the individual items will be removed from your inventory.

You can even establish a Customer price and a Retail price. When you sell through a customer account you can offer a bit of a discount. Those who are not renters can be charged more.

Contact our Support Department to find out about the new version of NX.gen. Call 877-591-0455 or email support@spacecontrol.com.

Floods. Tornados. All we've gotten here is some kind of late season flu thing that everybody is catching. It doesn't seem right to have the flu when it's warm outside but I guess you can't predict what Mother Nature is going to send your way.

Ramona Taylor
Space Control Systems, Inc.

phone: 1-800-455-9055