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How Should I Handle a Declined Card?

A quick reminder during this busy holiday season that even if those check-out lines are long, it is important to always follow best practices when accepting cards for payment at your point-of-sale. We have a few reminders that you should be aware of to protect yourself from fraud.

If you receive a “decline” message when processing a customer’s credit card, you should ask for another form of payment. Red Flag: Don’t accept authorization codes from customers even if they indicate they have received the approval after “talking to their bank.” You have no way of validating who they have just called and unfortunately this tactic is often used to defraud merchants. If you received a decline response when running the transaction, the bank that issued the card is not providing an approval for a reason – insufficient funds, past due, lost/stolen card, etc.

Accepting a sale and processing the transaction in an off-line mode should always be an exception and only done in unique circumstances. If a customer tells you that it’s “Ok” to run the offline sale because it “must be some sort of mistake” and they are “sure it is fine with their bank” – don’t believe it. No matter how nice they might be or how large the sale is. If a transaction is processed in offline mode without proper authorization, it will result in a chargeback to your business. Consequently, you may end up losing money and the product you just sold. Most customers have a second form of payment, and if they do not, the safe bet is to just apologize that the card doesn’t seem to be working at the moment and your store’s policy is to not force a declined card.

Making sure every transaction is properly authorized and a signed receipt is completed will help to protect your business from unnecessary chargebacks and fraud. Even during the holiday rush, it is important to follow the appropriate card acceptance process. For any additional questions, please give our friendly relationship managers a call at 1-800-704-7253, Option #4.


Sandy Brendemuehl

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