Peter Harrington is talking with me today on this episode. Peter is the Founder of Impact Payments. He started Impact Payments with a mission to provide world-class electronic payment solutions. The company offers an efficient and streamlined approach to helping clients get paid faster by streamlining payments, and dramatically impact the profits of clients.
In this episode we will cover:
- What are chargebacks
- How to win and mater chargebacks
- Lower risk/high risk businesses
- How to protect yourself from fraudsters
If you would like to learn more, you can speak with a representative from Impact Payments on their website.
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Episode 240: Fighting the Fraudsters with Peter Harrington Transcript
Andrea: [00:00:03] Welcome to the Legalpreneur podcast. I’m your host, Andrea Sager, founder and CEO of Legalpreneur Inc. As a serial entrepreneur and someone that works exclusively with small business owners legally protecting their business, I’m dedicated to covering common legal issues faced by business owners, providing you with the business knowledge you need to catapult your business’s growth and showing you just how some of the world’s most elite entrepreneurs have handled these legal and business issues themselves. In true attorney fashion, the information in this episode is not legal advice. This is for informational purposes only, and you should always consult with your attorney before implementing any of the information in the show. Hello there. Welcome back. I am super pumped about today’s guest, Peter Harrington. He is the payments expert. If you have known me for any amount of time, you know that I’m obsessed with processing credit card processing and saving on fees and really figuring out the chargeback process and mastering it and always winning. So I’m really excited to have Peter here today. He’s going to make sure that every single one of you is prepared to win the next chargeback that you receive. So, Peter, thank you so much for joining me today.
Peter: [00:01:16] Andrea, Oh my gosh, thank you so much. Really appreciate it and happy to be on the show.
Andrea: [00:01:20] Yeah, well, let’s get into it. Can you give everybody your background brag on yourself, tell them where you’ve been and how you got to where you are today.
Peter: [00:01:30] Oh, my gosh, love this. So November 17 years ago was actually a really, really hard month for me. I was finishing up college. I was actually stuck in some legal issues, believe it or not, in my senior year. That’s another story for another day and probably probably needs a few cocktails to go along with it. And my brother, one of my brothers, just happened to reach out and he was he was just going to call and leave me a voicemail late in the evening. And I picked up the phone and he was like, Hey, what’s up? And we got into some of the some of the details about what I was going through, and I was just really hurting. And he said, Hey, come on up for Thanksgiving. Like there’s there’s plane tickets in your email. Drive to Atlanta and hop on a plane and I’ll see you tomorrow morning. I was like, Oh, my gosh. And so I literally threw a bunch of stuff in a suitcase, went to Atlanta and flew out to see him. So that was November 25th, 2005. And he was telling me a little bit about the payments business and he was really excited about something he was involved in. I was like.
Peter: [00:02:39] Wait. I thought banks do credit card payments and there’s processors and like, what is all this stuff? And so. Flew back to Tennessee, where I was going to college, finished up my senior year. I only had a few weeks left and then got out of there and I was just planning on working with him for a few months. 12 years later, I was able to, over the course of the next 12 years, I was able to work with a few thousand businesses along the way, managed a team of about 50 people, and it was a it was a fantastic ride. I was fortunate enough to actually start my own company. So we we ultimately ended on amicable terms and I found that impact payments five years ago and really got into it right around COVID time frame. It was kind of this Plan B thing over on the side. And so about two and one half or almost three years ago, my Plan B rapidly became plan A. I’ve got a fantastic team and I’m really excited about what I’m doing. So that’s that’s a very rapid overview, but that’s that’s kind of a little bit of a history in my business over the last 17 years.
Andrea: [00:03:46] That that is very rapid because I know a lot more detail than that. But I love it because. And can you touch really quickly on separating ways with your brother? Because I know that a lot of people here go into business with friends or family and it doesn’t always end on amicable terms. But I’m curious, was it ever rocky? Was it was it a tough conversation and you ultimately were your adults and so it ultimately came out okay. Can you kind of talk about that? Because trust me, there’s a lot of business partners here talking or listening. And so this is very helpful.
Peter: [00:04:23] Well, I was never I was never an actual owner in the company, but I was acting like I was and I was doing all the work and I was doing 100 plus 120 hours a week. I know how to work. I know how to get stuff done. And we would have conversations about, Hey, Peter, it’s you and me. It’s you and me like we’re here, it’s us. And ultimately, those are some things that he either wasn’t able in the position to to provide on or then his life fell apart and he had a bunch of things going on on his end that ultimately fell down on me. So I had actually built up a portfolio that processed several hundred million in volume and wow, I was sitting there coasting. I was making a very nice six plus figure residual income. I was serving my clients and I was just kind of lollygagging and coasting. And then in 2019, the bottom dropped out and I lost everything. And he ended up having to sell off some aspects of the company. And it was really rocky there for a few months. Ultimately, what I feel is, you know, we’re we’re brothers, and that’s more important than being in business. And so about partnerships, I would say there’s probably probably 90% of people either shouldn’t be in partnerships or if they are, you’ve got to understand a lot of the things that lead up to lead up to that.
Peter: [00:06:03] And you can’t go into it with rose colored glasses, if you will, thinking that everything in the world is perfect. There can be some really, really raw, devastating things. And you don’t know until you know. In my case, it meant losing a seven figure business. And and that that really, really hurt. If I could have gone back and talk to me. 2010, 2011, 2012. And when I had some of those intuitions and some of those concerns. I kind of shoved them off to the side and it was like, We’re family and we’re great. Everything’s going to be awesome. And I didn’t take a lot of the steps that I really should have, and I needed to way back in the day because money solves all problems, right? Yeah. No, it just makes them a lot like if something falls apart, it falls apart in a lot bigger way. And so that that was it. It’s we’re in a good place now and we’re still brothers. We still connect up and all of that. But no, we’re not in business anymore.
Andrea: [00:07:11] Gotcha. Gotcha. Well, that’s great that you are in a good place now. I can only imagine how Rocky things were for a while if everything kind of fell apart for him. But anyways, moving on. Now you’re on to impact payments. Things are great. And I, you know, I for those listening, Peter and I are in the same mastermind. So little pattern there. I say that with a lot of my guests I met them in a mastermind, so I always talk about getting in the room.
Peter: [00:07:39] So yes.
Andrea: [00:07:41] Everybody needs to get in the room. Well, actually, can we touch on that? Because you you enjoy your wife who has actually been on the podcast before, join the mastermind together. Can you touch on why you both decided to join the mastermind?
Peter: [00:07:59] Well, you’ve heard the saying it’s lonely at the top. Yes. And I actually want to challenge that. Same because if what you focus on, you get more of and a lot of times super achievers really put these blinders on when they’re building their business. And then all you have to do is just really realize, hey, there’s actually some other super achievers, too, also building their business. And we we love to connect up. And so it’s that camaraderie and community connection. Those those are the reasons why that we we really chose to jump all in. And then, of course, the benefits are. I’ve learned. Ten years worth of content in six or seven months. Yeah, ten years of lessons. And I am in business with a partner right now. I brought a partner on. And so Luciana and I, she’s been in the payments business for 15 years. I’ve been in it for almost 17 years, 17 years now, and I wouldn’t have been in that place. I was still kind of stuck in that solopreneur route and being able to actually pivot to the entrepreneur road of realizing there’s some really key things that I’m World-Class at. And then I get to delegate, eliminate and automate everything else that doesn’t fit those those things. And so those are some of the key lessons I learned last year. And of course I renewed and hopped in for one more year because it was just so good being in that mastermind with you. Andrea I love that. And I guess I’d say it’s that camaraderie, community connection, and then just learning all those things. That was it. It blew my mind. All the stuff we learned in such a short time.
Andrea: [00:09:52] Yeah, same here. I always say I would never, ever be where I am today without Chris’s mastermind, because just I had never, ever been in a room with, you know, that high caliber of people. And I remember the first time I walked in, I was like, Oh my gosh, nobody. Who am I to be in this room? And now it’s just like, this is amazing. Being able to connect with so many people in such a high level. It really and for me, just expanding my brain, I love to just see how great other people are doing and not from a judgment standpoint or comparison standpoint. It’s like, that’s amazing because I know that it’s possible for me as well. So I, I love being in the rooms. So let’s get on to more payment stuff. Now, I know from a lot of listeners and clients, chargebacks are not fun for anyone. So before we get into the details and how to really win and master Chargeback, what is a chargeback?
Peter: [00:11:01] Well, to understand the chargeback, you actually really need to understand a sale. And how a sale or a transaction works in the credit card processing world is essentially you have what we call the card associations, Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, Discover those are the main primary four card associations, and then they work with about 16,000 banks and other financial institutions to issue cards to customers. We call those the issuing banks. And then merchants, business owners who set up a merchant account. They need to have the ability to process payments. So they work with what’s called an acquiring bank, a bank that acquires the transaction and processes those payments at a very, very rudimentary basic level. A transaction is the acquiring bank, sending the issuing bank a request saying, we’re trying to process this transaction. The issuing bank responds with a six digit authorization code and says success sale. And that happens in milliseconds. Well, a chargeback is. A sale happening in reverse. A lot of business owners think, Hey, I got the money. Like it deposited my account tomorrow or within a couple of days. So we’re great, right? Well, consumers have rights. And as a consumer, if you ever called your bank and done a dispute. That’s you reaching out to the issuing bank saying. I’m not happy or my card was stolen or I never got the product or a myriad of other chargeback reasons. It was defective. Not as described. It wasn’t delivered in the timely manner. There’s about 20 different chargeback reason codes and then that’s the sale happening in reverse.
Peter: [00:12:53] The issuing bank comes to the acquiring bank and literally yanks the money out of the business’s account. So the money flies out of your bank account and then the issuing bank holds that in escrow until the legal departments from both banks work behind the scenes to resolve it. And the one thing that I will say, and I cannot stress this enough, I may say this a couple of times. The customer is right. Unless you, the merchant, can prove them wrong. So the burden of proof is on the merchant. And typically you have 30 days to respond. And if you don’t, they automatically win and you lose the money. Now, if it’s a small transaction, more likely than not, it’s not going to be a chargeback if there’s a really big transaction. One of those bigger sales that you’re really excited about in your business that can be devastating for your business to suddenly have hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of dollars fly out of your bank account and then it’s held somewhere. Meanwhile, you already, as the business owner, you already provided all the goods and services or you already shipped the product or whatever the situation is on your end. So you’re out there, you’re out the product and you’re out the money. And then you don’t know what to do. So that’s at a very basic foundational level, a chargeback. And it really hurts as a business owner.
Andrea: [00:14:22] Yeah, it does. I, I know that. I mean, I see it all the time from clients. I’m sure you see it every single day as well. And so I love that we’re able to tackle this episode together. So what are some like? Definite ways. And I’m obviously there’s nothing that I can guarantee you winning a chargeback. But what are the banks really looking for? That way the merchant can prove that they’re right.
Peter: [00:14:49] Yeah, that absolutely. So as a business, number one, you have to remember that the burden of proof is on you. And so we want to prevent 90% of those or more from happening. You also, as a business owner, want to understand the risk model associated with payments so customers have up to four months from the when the product was actually delivered or provided to dispute something. So if you, for example, are a business consultant and you provided consulting work for somebody and you finished. And that the day we got the job done is day one, and that customer potentially has up to 120 days later to turn around and dispute the dispute the product or dispute the service that you provided. Now in the case of fraud. You never even got a chance to connect with the real customer because the fraudsters. Are typically lazy but brilliant, and they want to infiltrate and penetrate your business and steal from you. And it’s actually way easier than doing a bank heist. You know, the bank robberies where people, you know, we see those on TV or whatever. It’s actually way easier to do a data breach, steal a bunch of credit cards and then commit a bunch of fraud and walk off with hundreds of thousands of dollars of product that legitimate business owners lost and then they lost the money around those.
Peter: [00:16:30] So at a very high level. And then we can go into a lot more details. You want to prevent 90% of those from ever happening. You also want to understand some really basic policies that your business needs to have in place. You want to make sure that if you are a low risk business, you understand what high risk activities are for your business. And also, if you’re a higher risk business, such as a future delivery, large ticket or selling jewelry on the Internet, or there’s a product or a service that we’re providing that is over a long term extended period of time. Those are some examples of a quote unquote, high risk business. And then you want to safeguard yourself, and we want to plan for those crazy what if scenarios so we can get 90% of those eliminated before they ever happen. And then, of course, have an amazing team that helps you with that remaining 10% if they ever go sideways. You want your you want an advocate in your corner who knows what they’re doing. So, yes, great legal representation, a great payments partner. Somebody is going to fight for you to keep that money in your business and help you win those.
Andrea: [00:17:42] Yeah. And what so what are some of the lowest risk businesses for payment processing?
Peter: [00:17:47] Face to face transactions where the card is present? We typically are going to get a signature on those and they’re also lower ticket. So it’s not to say under under $500 or under 1000 bucks. So if it’s a card present transaction, say, at a retail store or a restaurant or something like that, those are typically lower risk. There’s no future delivery component. We’re not shipping product or we’re not paying for something today that went. Then we get a month from now. Yeah, we we buy something today. It’s a product, we get the service and then we’re good in those scenarios. The chargeback risk is. A fraudster calls you up on the phone or shows up with a with a stolen card and tries to tell you a story. In that case, you want to have your support team. So your employee is to be really educated on fraud and also that chargebacks can happen. And then, of course, if there’s ever a defective product scenario, you want to have your refund policy in very plainly written down. I always tell my clients, have it written down on your receipts. I was looking for a receipt here, so. In the last couple of years, especially with COVID. Most signatures in most scenarios are optional. We’ve been accustomed to signing for a transaction. As a business owner, if you have if you have a customer there. A signature is game over. It doesn’t matter if you’re recording the call, if you have video cameras in the store, none of that stuff matters in the eyes of Visa and MasterCard and the banks.
Peter: [00:19:26] What matters is if you’ve got a signature and they’ve signed your refund policy, it’s game over. So what I always educate my low risk clients, any of those signature based transactions have your refund policy printed right there on the point of sale system or the credit card machine. Either it’s all sales final, no refunds or in-store credit only exchange 30 day time limit or 14 day time limit. Have it very specifically spelled out, have it printed there, the customer signs it, and that is game over. The other thing is if you are a business and you do have face to face transactions. We always ask people credit or debit. And most most consumers are oblivious. Like, I don’t care. Or whatever. Yeah. As a business owner, if if you’ve got a face to face transaction, say it’s an automotive shop or a retail store or something like that, and you can have the customer enter their pin for those debit transactions. Pin based debit is also a game over scenario. Oh, the customer cannot do a dispute. Okay, on PIN debit transactions and that eliminates any fraudulent transactions because you know the PIN and you’re able to electronically verify that transaction right there. So anybody who’s in a retail face to face type environment, if you can grab a signature and they’ve signed your refund policy, you’ve educated your team and then you’re encouraging PIN based debit transactions, you’re well on your way to eliminating chargebacks out of your business.
Andrea: [00:21:03] Nice. That’s good to know. I did not know that about debit. Not you can’t file a chargeback for debit. So what about online businesses? So no face to face transactions. What are some tips to lower their risk since they are a little higher risk? What can they do to lower their risk, to hopefully minimize chargebacks or win chargebacks?
Peter: [00:21:26] Absolutely. So, yeah, we definitely want to minimize them ahead of time and, you know, eliminate the fact that. 90% of them could happen. So you really. Let’s talk about fraud second. I’m going to talk about a legitimate customer and there’s a misunderstanding. And let’s talk about that scenario first. So first of all, most most business owners are really nice people and you want to help your customers. So there’s the letter of the law and there’s the spirit of the law. The letter of the law, you’re going to say all sales final, no refunds or we don’t take anything back after seven days or something very specific, hard and fast. This is the rule. This is how it works. Then if somebody reaches out to you and explains their situation and they say, hey, you know, this product showed up or I didn’t get the service or my world is falling apart and I need help, you’re probably a nice person and you’re going to say, Sure, you know what, we’ll help you out. Most business owners that I that I partner with. That’s who they are.
Andrea: [00:22:38] Yeah, and that’s exactly what I teach clients. I say, Hey, tell like, put in your contract, no refunds. And because of somebody, people are going to automatically disqualify themselves for even asking for a refund. And those that ask, then you can make it a case by case basis. But if you immediately say no refunds immediately, you’re going to have people that disqualify themselves, which is great.
Peter: [00:23:00] Yep. And those documents are really, really important. So when we when we at the acquiring bank level are fighting for our merchants and we’re working to help you win the chargeback. Visa and MasterCard have this standard called compelling evidence. So if anybody ever has insomnia issues, I’m going to encourage you to go to Viacom. In the upper right hand corner, there’s a little search bar. There’s a little search tab. And you can you can search for visa terms and conditions. The last time I checked, it was 941 page document. Chapter 11 is all about chargebacks, and it actually describes all the different chargeback scenarios and variations, and their standard is compelling evidence. So again, the burden of proof is on the merchant. You provide the compelling evidence that this is, in fact, a legitimate transaction. So if you have let’s let’s talk real quick about product being shipped. If you’re an e-commerce business, that’s shipping product. There is a little red flag that needs to pop up where you are. Shipping the product to a different billing address than what is on the card. So this understand that in the world of Visa and MasterCard. Compelling evidence is we shipped the product to the actual billing address. Of course, consumers are going to have their billing address at their office and then their shipping address is their home or vice versa. Or they have three different shipping outlets, or I want it shipping to my mom’s house or whatever the scenario is.
Peter: [00:24:54] And I get that. If you want to 100% eliminate the scenario of I never got it or it was it was defective or some of those other types of things, If you’re shipping it to that billing address, you’ve eliminated 90% of the scenario of legitimate consumer. Throwing a fit and wanting their money back. And then on a case by case basis. Sure. Ship product somewhere else. That’s totally fine. But the billing and shipping address issue is something that trips people up all the time. And if you’re shipping product to a different address than the billing address, just understand there’s a potential for really big issues one way around that could potentially be if the consumer really wants the product, you could either advise them at an additional address at your bank so they can actually call the number on the back of the card and add an additional billing address or or a one time type scenario where we’re shipping this product to this other address. Most of the time, it’s never an issue. And then once, once in a while, if it’s an issue, that’s where you’re really, really running into a big problem. So for those website customers, whether you’re shipping product, that’s the number one way to eliminate chargebacks is get rid of that.
Andrea: [00:26:23] I actually remember that happening to me in college. I ordered a pair of ASICs online and I went to college in Kentucky. My billing address was Texas and they actually called me and. I had never had anybody call me before. And obviously that happened for a while, that I was having a different billing and shipping address, and that was the only time anybody’s ever called me. And I guess it was a six there, a little quality control, which now it’s just not clicking why they did that.
Peter: [00:26:56] Yep. That unfortunately they probably had to learn their lesson the hard way. Yeah. And then they, they had a whole fraud prevention department. Yeah. Because what we’re trying to eliminate is the fraudulent scenario where the billing address is one address, but then the fraudsters are shipping product to a drop ship location, which is a temporary spot. They get a bunch of product from all over the country, all over businesses, from all over the place. And then they shut that down and they’re gone before law enforcement shows up to shut their operation down. So it is a it’s unfortunately, it’s a high risk activity to be shipping product to different addresses than what’s on the billing address. And the reality is, as consumers, we do it all the time. So what what you just described. As a business owner, if it’s a transaction over a certain threshold, $250, $500, whatever it is in your business, set a threshold and then anything over and above that you want to have little red flags start popping up. And if you have two or three of those. Trust your gut. It’s not worth it. Don’t ship the product. So maybe you do call the customer if they have some weird generic email address, that’s a little red flag. If they have a generic name or there’s there’s. There’s misspelling. So if they’ve spelled things wrong or other things like that, there’s just more and more red flags that can start popping up. Florida, New York and Los Angeles, those are the three biggest spots where product leaves the country. And so if it’s a if it’s going to like literally Google that address, it’s going to if it’s going to some generic warehouse address or some P.O.
Peter: [00:28:54] box or something like that, that’s another little red flag that pops up. So again, we can’t eliminate all of them. We can eliminate most of them. And then you want to use your intuition and your judgment to help with with those. I actually had a situation where several pallets of lumber left a lumber yard. It was over $10,000 worth of product. The fraudster called the guy up. My merchant thought, Hey, I won, I scored. You know, we had this huge sale and unfortunately, it was fraudsters shipping it to California. His business was in Idaho. The fraudster thought, Hey, this is easy, and I did it again and this is something else I want to tell business owners, anybody listening? You’re never going to have it. Never. Never going to have chargebacks. Nothing’s going to happen. And then it’s going to come wave after wave after wave after wave. So when they when they figure out, Oh, we got you, then they think you’re gullible and they’re going to take you for everything they can get. So that’s where unfortunately, you’re going to get lulled to sleep and then. They come after you. So that’s what happened to my guy. A courier truck showed up and is transporting the lumber out of out of his lumber yard. And then the fraudster called up same day and was like, Hey, I’m going to order 6000 more. Well, in that scenario, another big red flag is if they tell you I’m happy to give you multiple cards or they give one and it declines and they give another one and declines, and then the third one or fourth one goes through, that’s giant red flags.
Peter: [00:30:37] You can also typically call your processor and do a code ten authorization. That’s what that’s what that’s called. So call the one 800 number that’s associated with your merchant account. You can give them the. The credit card number, expiration date amount, and the security code on the back of the card, the client’s name, the billing address, zip code, and then the credit card processor can actually ping the real customer’s bank and see is that the name on the card? Is that the correct billing address on the card? Is that the correct CVV code, etc.? Well, my merchant called me and he was like, Peter, interesting little story. And he starts talking and I’m like. Oh, no, Jace. Oh, I felt horrible for him. Do not let that courier show up with that $6,000 worth of lumber today. Shut that down. This is fraud. The courier there, clueless. They’re just like, Hey, we’re getting paid a few hundred bucks to transport something. We were actually able to. The story ends well. We’re actually able to call the law enforcement place in California where that lumber that those pallets of lumber were going, they intercepted the truck and he got his product back three months later. Most of the time, it never happens that way. Most of the time it’s good by ten grand. And we just took a massive loss of the business.
Andrea: [00:32:03] Oh, my gosh. Well, I’m glad that one ended well.
Peter: [00:32:06] Yeah.
Andrea: [00:32:07] Oh, my gosh. I’m sure you have crazy, crazy horror stories. But one last thing that I want to touch on as well is for those online businesses that. Have. I mean, it doesn’t matter the number, the dollar amount of the transaction. One of the biggest things that banks will look at is a signed contract. That’s doesn’t that go towards compelling evidence?
Peter: [00:32:34] Yes. In that scenario, a signature is also a really, really powerful game ender for you. So if if you’re a business that maybe you are coaching people or there’s a mentorship or there’s a membership or some other type of thing, or maybe there’s not a physical product involved, but there’s some type of agreement. Any type of agreement that you have between you and the client and and preferably has a signature associated with that, that is also essentially a game over scenario. So invest in a DocuSign type platform or something where you can collect electronic signatures, even something as simple as in your e-commerce checkout page, having a little box saying I agree to the terms and conditions and they maybe even type in their name there or something, but it’s a way where they’ve agreed to the terms and conditions. There’s a little hyperlink there that they have the opportunity to review those when they electronically agree and and then it’s implied consent where in your contract you very specifically state by proceeding with this transaction, you’ve agreed to our terms and conditions which are and you spell those out very clearly. All of that evidence gets put into the chargeback scenario and that’s again, you’re going to win virtually, if not all of those.
Andrea: [00:34:01] Perfect. Amazing. Well, Peter, this has been wonderful. Very, very grateful for you and your knowledge about payments and chargebacks. If somebody is looking for a new merchant account, where can they find you?
Peter: [00:34:17] Thank you, Andrea. I appreciate that. They would reach out to our team impact payments. And there’s actually a little hyperlink button there where they can book a call with us and talk with one of our specialists more in detail. I also want to say this. We’re we’re thrilled about giving back and we’re thrilled about benefiting other businesses. And so maybe it’s not a scenario where we can connect up and partner today, but we love to provide education. We love to help. We love to be a resource for people. So even if it’s not our account, we’re still happy to consult with people on situations. Bringing transparency and integrity back into the payments business is is really what I’m on mission about. And so that would be the next step would be just book a call with one of our team members at www.impactpayments.com and we’d love to connect up.
Andrea: [00:35:08] I love it. Thank you so much, Peter.
Peter: [00:35:10] So welcome. Thank you.
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