Sunny Days

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While basking in the warm weather courtesy of that neighborhood picnic, after-work happy hour or poolside vacation, enjoy the leisure, but keep an eye on the sun exposure.  Though you’re likely aware that prolonged sun exposure—along with indoor tanning beds—are the leading causes of skin cancer, did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States? This year alone, 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer (the most common types found on the base layer of the skin, like the face, ears, neck and backs of hands) will be reported, and melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer) will affect  more than 76,000 people. Brush off those preconceived notions that skin cancer is limited to fair-skinned people or the elderly;  everyone, regardless of age and race, is at risk. 

Despite the scary statistics, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers. Though you can’t go back in time and intercept that blistering sunburn five years ago, you can take these tips from the Skin Cancer Foundation:

Seek out shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is the strongest and avoid direct sunlight. Hang out in the shade or beneath an umbrella. While you may have heard that the sun is a source for vitamin D, it’s safer to eat vitamin-D-rich foods like salmon or orange juice than subjecting your skin to UV rays.

Don’t get burned. If you start to see your skin redden, get out of the sun, stat!

Wear protective gear like hats, sunglasses and clothing—darker clothing protects better than clothing with lighter hues.

Put on a high-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day, year-round. Coat your body with about 2 tablespoons at least 30 minutes before you go outside and reapply every two hours if you’re swimming or sweating.

Self-check your skin once a month for irregular moles or discoloration.

Visit your dermatologist once a year for a professional skin cancer exam. 

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2014 Decatur Book Festival

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CoCard is proud to call Decatur, GA home. Our city is a huge part of what has made the Decatur Book Festival so successful. Each year, the Festival brings more than 600 authors and 85,000 people to Decatur! Cocard has sponsored the Decatur Book Festival since 2012 and is happy to announce our third year of sponsorship for 2014!

Click here to learn more about the Decatur Book Festival.

CoCard is a Decatur-based merchant services company that’s provided simple, secure, and cost-effective electronic payment and fraud prevention services for clients across the country – and across the street – since 1988. If you’re not already processing locally, now’s a great time to switch. Imagine being able to pick up the phone, call someone locally, and have them come out to fix your problem the same day!

Are you a Decatur, GA business owner? Click here to find out how we can help you!

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Security Alert!

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Recent RSA findings report that ChewBacca malware has compromised the security of numerous POS systems since being discovered in October 2013. According to a Visa alert in March, the malware operates by installing a copy of itself in the Windows startup folder as a file called “spoolsv.exe” and then disguising itself as a Windows Print Spooler (so it runs automatically when you start Windows). The malware utilizes two data-stealing mechanisms: a generic keylogger and a memory scanner that look for credit card numbers, PIN, identity information and security data. ChewBacca is privately owned, and it is currently unknown how many were affected by the breach.

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Internet Security Alert

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CoCard wants to alert all clients of a bug attacking the Internet’s OpenSSL software (an encryption software widely used by businesses to protect customer data) discovered by security researchers on April 7, 2014 called the Heartbleed Bug. Hackers use the bug to create websites that mirror legitimate ones in order to steal usernames, passwords and credit card data from unsuspecting users. According to a recent report by The Washington Post, this bug went undetected for two years and may have affected as many as two-thirds of the Internet. The next step is for all 500,000 affected sites to revoke their current certificates and issue new ones.

Though this breach attacked the websites of many mom-and-pop shops and those of major companies like Facebook, Netflix, OkCupid and Dropbox (all currently reissuing their certificates), it fortunately did not affect bank or government websites.

CoCard prides itself on providing data security to its clients and takes matters like these seriously. If you have any questions or concerns about the Heartbleed Bug, please contact one of our dedicated professionals at 1.800.317.1819.

COCARD fights fraud!

CNN also has another great article called Heartbleed Bug: What you need to know (FAQ)

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‘Tis the Season… for Allergies

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Chances are your health (or that of your loved ones) has been affected by the springtime pollen surge. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S., affecting more than 50 million Americans and costing the nation a whopping $18 billion each year! While warring your attack against itchy eyes, nasal drainage and disrupted breathing, consider these tips from the Mayo Clinic.

  • Stay inside on dry or windy days when pollen roams rampant. The best time to go outside is after a heavy rain, when much of the pollen has been washed away.
  • Avoid yard work if you can—opt for indoor chores instead.
  • When you come in from spending time outdoors, remove clothes and take a shower so you’re not carrying allergens around with you.
  • Despite the spring-fresh smell, don’t hang laundry outside to dry.
  • Consider wearing a dust mask if you absolutely must do outside chores.
  • Though the fresh breeze is refreshing, refrain from opening windows in your house and rely on air conditioning instead.
  • Use high-efficiency filters if you have forced air heating or air conditioning. Make sure you regularly change your filters.
  • Use an air dehumidifier.
  • Consider grabbing a portable high-efficiency particulate air filter for your bedroom.
  • Clean floors regularly to remove dirt and allergens and use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
  • Rinse your sinuses with a prepackaged nasal wash (like a Neti pot) to clear out the excess mucus.
  • Visit your general practitioner and ask for advice on the proper over-the-counter or prescription remedy best suited to dealing with your symptoms. He or she may refer you to an allergist for allergy testing or for additional treatment options.
  • Consider rethinking pet ownership (dander may be part of your problem). Don’t feel like you can part with your pup? Make sure you at least ban them from the bedroom. Consult your allergist for allergy shot options.

View the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s website for additional helpful tips. 

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Protect your Passport

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Among the many questions highlighted by last month’s Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappearance was the prevalence of stolen passports (two passengers on board were flying with stolen identities). A recent article published in USA Today noted that Interpol’s database lists more than 40 million stolen travel documents (most of them passports) since 2002. Despite heavy security measures at airports in a post-911 world, passport security is still fairly lax (sometimes non-existent). Only a few countries systematically check them at the gate. So where do these stolen passports go? The black market, where they’re sold to everyone from illegal immigrants, prostitutes and criminals to terrorists.

Like stolen credit cards, having your passport stolen can be a traumatic experience. While practicing safety precautions is always advised—keep all of your bags close to your body, never leave items unattended, lock your suitcases—pick-pockets can still snatch your travel documents and catch you unaware. Before traveling overseas, it’s always best to make a couple of copies of your passport card so you’ll have all relevant information needed to replace the card in a worst-case scenario. If you are traveling abroad and your passport is stolen, you won’t be allowed back in the country until you have a new one. So, if you find yourself in this position, there are a few basic steps you will need to take to replace your passport:

  1. Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate
  2. Speak to the Consular Section to report your missing passport.
  3. You’ll be directed to where you’ll need to go to replace your passport, get a new photo, etc.
  4. To replace your passport, you’ll need a photo ID, a passport photo, evidence of U.S. citizenship (which is where a copy of your passport comes in handy), your plane ticket, a DS-11 Application for Passport and a DS-64 Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport.

Read more precautions and replacement steps here.

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Fraud-proof your Business

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As a small business owner, you’re not only the purveyor of goods and services, you’re a watchdog against credit card fraud. To protect your customers and your store, you and your cashiers must always stay on high alert.

For card-present transactions be sure to train your staff on the top warning signs of fraud:

  1. Always ask for customer ID and check to make sure the customer’s driver’s license and credit card signature and names match.
  2. Look for evidence that the card has been altered.
  3. Know your business, and what does and does not constitute a typical transaction.
  4. Look for warning signs from the customer. Is he or she sweaty, anxious and suspicious? Did he or she jump into your lane while you were changing out the register/in the middle of a closing-time rush?
  5. Pay attention to customers who buy things with a high resale value, or who re-enter the store after a large purchase and continue shopping.

If you or one of your employees suspects fraud, it’s imperative that you call Code 10 immediately. Here’s how.

Read additional tips for preventing card-present and card-not-present fraud by visiting CoCard.info. We are always available to answer any questions/concerns regarding fraud, your POS System, transactions and more. Call us! 1.800.317.1819.

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Welcome April

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Happy April Fool’s Day!
Hopefully your co-workers haven’t taken advantage of your gullible side with too many practical jokes today. Beware of impromptu marriage proposals or outlandish news. And, if you’re made the fool, laugh it off. It’ll be April 2 before you know it.

Stylish in the Rain
With April comes those typical showers (more of the usual for those of us in Georgia). Keep dry and break out from the monotony of the standard black umbrella with a few of these rainy day looks for him and her.

Michael Kors Trench w/Detachable Hood, Nordstrom, $129.90
Chooka Classy Classic Rain Boot, DSW, $49.95
Felix Rey CityScape Bubble Umbrella, Bloomingdale’s, $65
Marmot Storm Shield Rain Jacket – Men’s, REI, $65.73
Sorel Cheyanne Lace Full Grain Boots – Men’s, REI, $28.93
Brooks Bros. Windowpane-Check Umbrella, Mr. Porter, $65

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