Accepting debit and credit card payments in your organization is a great way to increase cash flow and offer convenient payment tools to your members and clients. Before getting started it is important to learn the best ways to protect yourself from members disputing payments made to your firm. When a cardholder calls the issuing bank of their credit card to dispute a transaction listed on their account it is called a chargeback. At LawPay we want to help our groups protect themselves from day one by collecting the following information from cardholders.
- Obtain authorization from the cardholder for the specific dollar amount being charged. Authorization means a signature from the cardholder and can be collected on paper or electronically.
- Confirm the name on the card. If the name is different from your actual client, obtain additional written approval from the actual cardholder, such as a third party authorization form. This is common in certain practice areas such as family law.
- When accepting credit card information over the phone or through your website, ensure you have a charge authorization or previous client agreement to charge payments on file.
- Have clients specifically initial the firm's payment and credit card policies in their client agreements. This specifically shows the client was notified of the firm's payment policies and agreed to them. You cannot take away a client's right to dispute a transaction, however you can disclose the fee for your services as non-refundable and have them initial next to this.
- If you are accepting payments from relatives or other third parties make sure you have the proper documentation. The authorization form or agreement should include the client name, invoice number and matter number if possible. Obtain signature from the third party to confirm they are accepting responsibility for the payment.
- Obtain client initials next to any specific cancellation policies included in your client agreements.
- Clearly outline your terms and conditions, including your refund policy, in the fee agreement and have the client initial next to the paragraph to confirm consent.
- Communicate clearly and frequently with your clients. Open communication keeps your clients happy, which greatly reduces the risk of a dispute.