By Suneera Madhani

With the holidays here, it’s time for last minute shoppers to frantically search for gifts and run their leftover errands. Small businesses are almost guaranteed to see an uptick in sales in December. In anticipation, it’s important that small business owners prepare their businesses for the coming rush. More shoppers means more sales, but it also means increased fraud. The holiday season has the highest number of fraudulent cards run of any time of year. Fraud rates reach 200 percent of the average rate on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone. Due to this massive increase in fraud during the holidays, it is imperative that you ensure your business is protected with EMV technology.

In the past, having a fraudulent card run at your business felt a little like getting coal in your stocking, but it was by no means reason to cancel the holidays. However, since the EMV Liability Shift, having a fraudulent card run at your business can force you to close up shop. If you haven’t adopted EMV technology, you will be the one held financially liable for the fraudulent transaction, not the banks. Having to take this liability on means SMBs are much more vulnerable to and affected by a fraudulent card. According to a study conducted by The National Cyber Security Alliance, 60 percent of small businesses close within six months of experiencing a data breach.

Employing EMV technology means that the United States and its merchants are significantly more secure than they have ever been before. With the holiday fraud increase, this technology will prove invaluable to merchants. EMV cards have chips that are “dipped” into readers on terminals rather than swiped. The chips utilize end-to-end encryption and unique codes to process each and every transaction. This means that it is virtually impossible for that information to be stolen and reused for any future, fraudulent transactions. EMV also requires the use of a personal pin code or signature to verify the transaction, adding another layer of security to the process. EMV’s increased security will lead to drastically reduced fraudulent card transactions which will mean a happier holiday season for merchants and shoppers alike

A recent Fattmerchant survey found that 72 percent of small business owners have not yet adopted EMV-compliant technology. 93 percent of the survey participants were small business owners, showing that they are particularly unprepared for the upcoming holidays. With a drastic increase in fraud expected over the next few weeks, the number of merchants not prepared with EMV-compliant equipment is extremely worrisome. This number indicates that the majority of small business are completely vulnerable to the 200 percent increase in fraud expected this holiday season. If you’re one of these merchants, a fraudulent card will could be run and you’ll have anything but a happy holiday.

The good news is that it is not too late to secure EMV-compliant technology so you can confidently take on the rest of your holiday sales. During the holidays, you want to focus on friends, family, and anything but your credit card processing, but now is the exact time to shift your focus to EMV-compliant equipment to ensure you are protected. A merchant services provider should make transitioning quick and painless, but beware of Scrooges trying to take advantage of you. The right merchant services provide will provide you with free EMV equipment delivered right to your door in a matter of days. When it comes to fraud, the worst of it is right around the corner. Don’t give it the chance to ruin your holidays. Using EMV technology will ensure that both you and your customers are able to enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.

Suneera Madhani is the CEO and founder of Fattmerchant, a subscription-based merchant services provider. Fattmerchant offers unlimited credit card processing at direct cost – 0% markups, no ancillary fees, and no contract.