Security 101: What your employees need to learn to safeguard members at checkout

EMV, tokenization and a host of other advanced security technologies are transforming the payment industry, bringing with them big changes at checkout counters everywhere. While these technologies promise to increase fraud protection, knowing just how to obtain, install and use them remains somewhat of a mystery to many consumers.

So what exactly do credit union front-liners need to know today about security in order to bring their members up to speed?

“As a general rule, all credit union employees should be well versed in the most secure payment technologies available today for their members,” said Amanda Atcheson, product marketing manager for CO-OP Financial Services. “Right now, that list is fairly extensive – and growing.”

So Many Ways to Pay

Atcheson cites EMV chip cards, tokenized digital wallets, MasterCard’s MasterPass, Visa Checkout and a new generation of smart phone apps that allow consumers to set card controls and alerts as just a few of the new payment technologies available to today’s consumers. “While this entire spectrum of products may not be available from your credit union, your branch and call center associates should understand in-depth each payment technology you do offer,” she said.

She recommends creating FAQ sheets for member-facing associates and also offering them hands-on training sessions. “Your employees need practice using new payment technologies so they can effectively introduce them to members and provide instruction on how these tools work.” she said.

According to Atcheson, credit union marketing and communications staff members should be equally tech-savvy when it comes to security. “It is important for all professionals communicating with members to understand the complexities of today’s payment industry and to keep up with new advances in security technology,” she said. “Credit union messaging related to card security should be easy to understand, updated frequently, and highly visible on the website, in branch signage, and at all marketing touchpoints, from newsletters and e-mail blasts to smartphone apps.”

Securing Card-Present Transactions

While Atcheson emphasizes the importance of educating employees and members on new security technologies, she notes that this knowledge alone is not enough.

“As consumers, we also need to understand the origins of card fraud,” she said. “The fact is that most of the larger data breaches occur when a card is present: during the transaction, the mag stripe data is compromised, and a counterfeit card is created. So while card-not-present transactions have a reputation for being susceptible to fraud, they are, in fact, safer than card-present transactions because they don’t expose PINs or reveal sensitive data that resides only on the mag stripe. And these are the most sought-after pieces of information by fraudsters.”

So what should credit union employees tell members to help protect them at the point of sale?

“First, members need to know that it is generally safest to use a debit card,” said Atcheson. “Choosing the ‘credit’ option for debit transactions adds another layer of protection as well. In these scenarios, the purchase amount will be deducted directly from a bank account, and the transaction will be processed through a credit card network, providing greater legal protection for the credit union member.”

According to Atcheson, credit union employees can also help safeguard members by encouraging them to take advantage of new, more secure EMV chip cards as well as digital wallets that feature tokenization technology, such as Apple Pay and Android Pay.

“Payments secured with EMV and tokenization technologies are generally regarded as more secure than traditional mag stripe transactions, and merchant adoption of these technologies continues to grow,” she said.

She continued, “As a credit union, education is one of the most valuable services you can provide to members, especially where security is concerned. Ultimately, when it comes to preventing card fraud, there is no substitute for consumer awareness.”


Bill Prichard

Bill Prichard

Bill Prichard is Senior Manager, Public Relations and Corporate Communications, for Co-op Solutions (, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., a financial technology provider to credit unions. Prichard can be reached ... Web: Details