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Precision Computing Arts / Fastwebdev Blog
Precision Computing Arts / Fastwebdev Blog

Welcome to the Precision Computing Arts / Fastwebdev blog. We use this blog to post interesting news about our Sitebuilder web hosting and content management system (CMS). As with other blogging systems, blog articles from our system are indexed in Google and other search engines within a week or two.

(Customers can set up and maintain similar blogs on any Sitebuilder websites that we host.)

Tuesday, December 13 2016

Who Is3/13/15 Update: Thieves are stealing company web addresses, so please be wary of responding to suspicious "phishing" emails asking you to renew your domain or provide other sensitive account information. Also, guard and take responsibility for your own account user names and passwords.

More details about "Thieves Steal Company Web Addresses" here.

Original Article Below

Who has the keys to your domain...and your web hosting account...and your PayPal account...and all the other online accounts that make your business tick?

As a business, personal, or non-profit website owner, if you didn't answer this question with a resounding "I DO!," you are putting your website and possibly even your entire enterprise at risk.

Many companies such as domain registrars, website hosts, PayPal, banks, and others that are required to keep your sensitive online information safe WILL NOT COMMUNICATE with anyone other than the person who is listed as the main contact in their records. And they certainly will not release user name, password, and other account information to anyone other than the officially designated contact.

Knowing this to be true, consider what might happen in the following scenarios if you are not listed as the primary contact and you do not have a copy of your login information:

  • Your employee leaves the company.
  • You decide to switch web designers, or your designer retires or closes the business.
  • Your spouse divorces you.
  • Your relative turns untrustworthy.
  • You and your friend or business partner have a falling out.

Now further imagine that one of these common situations arises and you need to:

  • Change your account password or contact information.
  • Change your web hosting service.
  • Change your domain registrar.
  • Change your website designer or search engine optimization (SEO) company.
  • Access your PayPal account in order to add new payment buttons.

Ouch! You could be in a world of hurt, as one of our new customers discovered recently.


The bottom line is that YOUR contact information should be on ALL these accounts, and YOU should have a copy of all the login information for these accounts: that means URL addresses (e.g., paypal.com, namecheap.com, gmail.com, etc.), user names, and passwords. PLEASE do not rely on others (or Precision Computing Arts) to keep this essential information safe for you!


Tip: Here is one way to find out who is listed as the primary contact for your website's domain and to learn the nameservers for your website hosting account:

  1. Go to http://centralops.net/co/DomainDossier.aspx
  2. Type in your domain name (e.g., pcartsonline.com). Omit the www.
  3. Check the domain whois record box.
  4. Click GO. (Note: If you have changed the information recently, it may take about 24 hours to see the most recent changes.)

Oh, in case you are wondering, when Precision Computing Arts / Fastwebdev sets up an account for you, we never list our company as the registration, administrative, technical, or billing contact. We always list you — the company owner (or your designee) — and we always provide you with the complete login information for every account that we set up on your behalf. PLEASE STORE THIS INFORMATION IN A SAFE PLACE!

Questions? Please contact us.

Posted by: Elizabeth Olson AT 06:17 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, June 23 2016
* Tutorials for Managing Your Website

Our website content management system (CMS) includes Flash tutorials and other online help (including a downloadable user manual) to make it easy to learn how to update your "build-your-own" websites.

» More details

Posted by: Elizabeth AT 04:58 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, March 27 2016
* Creating Great Looking Text and Well-Behaved Pages on your Sitebuilder Website (Update)

A website will look more professional if you pay close attention to the appearance of the text, make the links behave consistently, and ensure that photos are not so large that they distort the design of your pages.

» Read more about great looking text and pages

Posted by: Elizabeth Olson AT 04:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, February 11 2011

The Costco Connection (February 2011) recently featured an article titled "Nine Steps to Getting Your Website Noticed" by Andy Tilbrook. The original article is available at http://www.costcoconnection.com/connection/201102?pg=28#pg28.

Here are highlights of the tips:

  1. Be sure to submit your website to the big 3 search engines (Google, Yahoo!, and Bing). Links are:
  2. Submit your site to dmoz, a human-reviewed non-profit Web-monitoring project that links to Google's directory. Link is: www.dmoz.org/help/submit.html
  3. Include a sitemap, which provides a list of your web site's pages for the major search engines. You can generate a sitemap automatically at www.xml-sitemaps.com. After generating the map, you will need to upload it to your website and submit it to the search engines.
  4. Be sure the content of your site includes the key words and phrases that people would enter into search engines when they are looking for the type of product or service that you offer.
  5. Try using Google's keyword tool to get ideas for keywords to include in your site. Link is: www.google.com/sktool/
  6. Be sure the filenames of your photos include descriptive keywords, such as avoid_gum_surgery.jpg. (And don't forget to include the "Alt" tags.) 
  7. Encourage links from other (related) websites to yours. For example, when commenting on blog articles that are related to your business, be sure to include a link back to a relevant page on your website. Also, ask for other sites to link to yours. For example, if you sell volleyball uniforms, ask the webmaster for your local volleyball club to link from the volleyball club's site to your site.
  8. Use informative description and title meta tags on each page of your site. These tags are not visible to website users, but most search engines employ them when creating a listing for your website's pages in their indexes.
  9. Use relevant, visible headings that employ your search engine keywords throughout your site.

If you would like us to help improve your site's search rankings using the tips below, please contact us.

Posted by: Elizabeth Olson AT 10:46 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, January 20 2011

Read Are You Nobody? Do Your Customers Know Your Name?
Click above to read the entire blog article

Our friend and client Karalyn J. Eckerle of Cardinal Point Virtual Assistants wrote an excellent blog article titled "Are You Nobody? Do Your Customers Know Your Name?" We encourage you to read the entire article to fully enjoy her great tips and wonderful writing style. But if you're in a hurry and want some truly useful nuggets of marketing advice, read the Top Ten List below:

  1. Branding (name association) is an important concept in business.
  2. Word-of-mouth advertising is the most valuable marketing tool we have.
  3. Become known in your field by telling people what you do, with passion!
  4. Connect with folks through business cards that reflect your character and the type of work you do, and then be imaginative in your use of those cards.
  5. Distribute at least 5 business cards every day, preferably with a customized note on the back.
  6. A frequently-updated website and a blog are nearly mandatory in today's Internet-oriented business world. (Please contact us if you need help with these items!)
  7. Visit Internet blogs and websites related to your business, and comment on blog articles that you find.
  8. When commenting, leave a link to your own blog or website in your signature line.
  9. Be a physical presence in your community, volunteering your expertise to become better known (plus, volunteering can be fun and emotionally rewarding).
  10. Toot your own horn occasionally so people will know who you are and what you do.

We completed a website makeover for Karalyn's company, Cardinal Point Virtual Assistants, on January 19, 2011.

 

Posted by: Elizabeth Olson AT 11:25 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, December 22 2010

Credit Card Processing - Avoiding Fraud Credit card fraud can be a concern for anyone who accepts credit card payments, either in a brick-and-mortar retail setting or when selling products and services online.

Credit card processing typically uses both Credit Card Verification Value (CVV) and Address Verification System (AVS) to help prevent credit card fraud. The CVV is a three- or four-digit code on the card that indicates the user has physical access to the card. The AVS verifies that the billing address given by the buyer matches the card account holder's address. Mismatches in either CVV or AVS could indicate fraud.

This blog article addresses important issues regarding AVS and CVV and offers some tips on avoiding credit card fraud, especially with respect to online transactions. We also offer some specific details about the Site Builder (aka "Cool Tools") shopping cart e-commerce system that is available through our website hosting service.

 

 

General Advice


You will find some excellent advice in all the linked articles near the end of this post, but the quote below is quite telling:

 

 

 

"Always use AVS and CVV/CV2/CVC (Card Verification) on every transaction you process. This will at the very least guarantee that the card holder has the card, and it is being billed to an address registered to the card.

If possible, check each order that is processed through your website. If you come across a suspicious order, call the customer to verify who they are. If the order is extremely large or talking to them is unconvincing, request them to fax a copy of their drivers license to you, and a signed invoice. These may be a small inconvenience to some of your customers, but the cost of fraud to your business is far greater than not taking the extra steps. Most customers are happy to verify information with you, as preventing fraud is a concern of theirs as well.


Also if you can, require a signature with every package that you ship. A signature is the only way to prove proof of delivery."


Be sure there's a good explanation if the address on the credit card does not match the purchaser's address. And be particularly wary of foreign orders, especially those from Nigeria, anywhere in Africa, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

If you suspect credit card fraud, immediately contact your credit card company/merchant account gateway company for advice, and be sure to keep detailed records of all transactions and communications with the buyer and any potential victims of stolen identity.

 

 

 

"Cool Tools" Shopping Cart Details


If you use our "Cool Tools" shopping cart systems with a merchant account, your shopping cart system records AVS and CVV responses from your merchant account gateway, but it does not automatically decline suspicious transactions. You are responsible for analyzing transactions that come through the shopping cart. (Check with your merchant account gateway company to see whether they offer any options for making the authorization process more restrictive.)

Here is a general explanation of how our "Cool Tools" shopping cart works:

 

 

 

The gateway processes the card based on the merchant's settings. Our shopping cart system accepts the order if the gateway says the transaction was approved and tries to report details (such as the transaction id) about the transaction back to the merchant. All merchants should review their orders before completing them (completing tells the gateway to capture the funds reserved during the original transaction). The gateway checks CVV and AVS information if the merchant has these options as part of their merchant/gateway account. Full details would be available by viewing the transaction in the virtual terminal provided by the merchant's gateway.


To reduce the chance of being the victim of a credit card fraudster, always carefully check the Fraud Screening section of your order processing page before you complete a credit card order. A message such as the one below, along with non-matching addresses in the order's Billing Information or Shipping Information sections, could indicate potential fraud:

 

 

Fraud Screening: AVS-Card code does not match
CVV-Not Available

 

Note: CVV information may be unavailable for any number of reasons, none of which the shopping cart system controls.


For best protection, you need to use manual detection (e.g., checking each transaction carefully before you complete it) and set up your Gateway to be more restrictive about credit card transactions. The shopping cart system by itself cannot prevent credit card fraud.

 

We recommend that you checkmark Enable CVV in your shopping cart system's Store Manager (see 7. Payment Methods/Merchant Account). We also recommend that you checkmark Require Agreement/Consent CHECKBOX and enter an explanatory message such as "Please check this box to confirm your agreement to be responsible for payment on your order." in your Store Manager (see 4. Checkout Settings). You may want to display more detailed terms and conditions; this is just an example.


"Cool Tools" Shopping Cart Points to Remember
Your payment gateway (merchant account) allows you to process credit card transactions over the Internet. The merchant account/gateway interfaces with our shopping cart system. The gateway is responsible for verifying and processing the credit card orders.
 
Our shopping cart system does not restrict transactions based on CVV or AVS match; that is the gateway's responsibility. The shopping cart system does not screen or prevent transactions from going through (merely reports any responses from the gateway). It is the merchant's responsibility to check the records with the gateway if anything appears amiss.

 

 

 

General Article Links and Summaries

 

 

  • http://intellivative.com/avs-and-cvv-when-to-use-it-and-why.html
    • What are AVS and CVV?
    • Do I need to use AVS and CVV?
    • What type of order is it?
    • Will it make a difference in my transaction fees?
    • So besides extra fees, what good are AVS and card code?
    • How do I know what these cryptic response codes mean?
  • http://www.paradata.com/content/help/faq/security_faq.shtml
    Security / Fraud Protection FAQs (from Payment Processing Inc. (PPI))
    • How secure are PPI payment products and payment gateway?
    • How can I remove the risk of fraudulent credit card use and resulting costs to me or my customers?
    • What fraud screening does PPI offer?
    • Am I liable for fraudulent card use or chargebacks?
    • What is CW?
    • What is CVV?
    • What is AVS?
  • http://www.bankcardcentral.com/resources/articles-merchant/cvv-avs-security-codes.html
    Details about CVV Security Codes and AVS Verification Security
  • http://www.process4america.com/Responding_to_Chargebacks.pdf
    Recommended best practices for preventing and responding to chargebacks.
    Per Wikipedia, a "chargeback" is the return of funds to a consumer, forcibly initiated by the consumer's issuing bank. Specifically, it is the reversal of a prior outbound transfer of funds from a consumer's bank account, line of credit, or credit card.
  • http://ezinearticles.com/?How-Merchants-Can-Reduce-Credit-Card-Fraud&id=5141319
    Addresses 10 ways merchants can reduce credit card fraud (below) and lists top real-time payment gateway services (our "Cools Tools" shopping cart interfaces with most of these):
    1. Use Address Verification Service (AVS).
    2. Use Card Verification (CVV/CVV2).
    3. Use a Threshold Management Service.
    4. Scrutinize orders from free email accounts.
    5. Scrutinize orders with a different Ship to address than Bill to address.
    6. Scrutinize international orders / foreign credit cards.
    7. Understand that an Authorization Code does not mean the credit card is not stolen.
    8. Use an Advance Fraud Protection Service.
    9. Use a PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant data storage service.
    10. Review and implement PCI standards policies.
  • http://www.merchantequip.com/merchant-account-blog/36/what-does-a-fraudulent-transaction-look-like
    • What does a fraudulent transaction look like?
    • Businesses will always suffer more from fraud than consumers!
      (Card testing and fraudulent orders are the two main types of credit card fraud.)
    • Card testing (or carding).
    • Preventing card testing.
    • Fraudulent orders.
    • Preventing fraudulent orders.
    • Common fraudulent order flags.
 
Posted by: Elizabeth Olson AT 06:32 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, August 26 2009

Do you want some help figuring out the best keywords to use in your Pay Per Click system (e.g., Google Adwords or Yahoo Overture)? Do you want to find out what the competition is doing? If so, check out Google's FREE Search-Based Keyword Tool. Use this free tool from Google to generate a list of keywords found on any site, including your own and your competition's.

To use the tool:

  1. Click here to start the SK tool (www.google.com/sktool/).
  2. In the Website box, enter the website address that you want to analyze.
  3. Click Find Keywords.

You can sort by any column (click on the column name), analyze the results in a variety of ways, and even export the keywords found. The tool is optimized for use with Google's Adwords system, but it's great all by itself. (Note that it shows a limited list of keyword ideas, not every possible keyword associated with the site you selected.)

To learn about more tools for selecting Pay Per Click keywords, visit the Pay Per Click Insider Tips article titled "Five Techniques to Dominate the Long-Tail".

Posted by: Elizabeth AT 01:14 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, July 06 2009

Email can get tangled in a URL shortenerLong URLS — such as those that you copy from a browser's address bar and paste into email messages or print for later reference — can be difficult to pass along to others. They may break in email. They are difficult to spell out in conversation. They require error prone typing. Plus, they can be hard to remember!

Several "URL Shorteners" are available to help you convert long URLs into short ones, often with easy to remember and easy to type names. Examples of such services include:

tinyurl.com
memurl.com
bit.ly

and more. (To find more, search for the term "URL shorteners" in Google or another search engine.)

The problem with these services is that spammers tend to use them too! Recognizing that these shortened URLs could belong to spammers, today's spam blockers are more restrictive than ever. Often a perfectly legitimate use of a shortened URL in an email message can cause your email to be blocked as spam.

If you are using a URL shortener and people complain that they aren't receiving your messages, you may need to revert to using the longer URLs in order to get your messages through.

Another option is to ask recipients to put your email address on their email system's "whitelist" (a list of e-mail addresses or domain names that are trusted to not send spam). The spam blocker allows messages from the whitelist to pass through, regardless of their content and regardless of whether they contain shortened URLs. The technique for adding email addresses and domains will vary, depending on your email service. (This whitelist feature is especially easy to set up in the email section of our "Sitebuilder" build-it-yourself website service.)

Posted by: Elizabeth AT 10:19 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, May 29 2009

Introduction to Social Networking - Costco Connection - June 2009Page 22 of Costco's June 2009 Costco Connection newsletter features a good introduction about using social networking to generate buzz about your business. In a bad economy, social networking can get the word out about your business and generally does not cost you a dime -- just your time!

Here's a direct link to the article: http://www.costcoconnection.com/connection/200906/?pg=24&pm=2&u1=friend

Posted by: Elizabeth Olson AT 06:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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