online shopper entering credit card information into laptop

Does Your Business Need to Be PCI Compliant?

How to Protect Your Client’s Identity

Incidents of identity theft in 2016 were higher than incidents logged in 2015 by 40%. As more and more consumers shop and pay bills online, it’s critical that businesses accepting credit card payments meet security standards. This way, they can protect their clientele from unauthorized credit card access and identity theft. The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards are widely followed guidelines for securing millions of credit card data.

Becoming a PCI compliant business adds a seal of trust to your brand. It may even be a requirement in some industries. The PCI Security Standards Council helps financial institutions and merchants implement and use security processes, technologies, and policies to protect their payment gateways from data theft and breaches.

Here are some FAQs about PCI compliance to help you begin meeting the organization’s requirements.

What is PCI Compliance?

Branded credit cards regulate PCI compliance and standards. It aims to reduce incidents of credit card fraud by increasing control over how businesses handle and store cardholders’ details. The regulators conduct validation of compliance yearly. This ensures companies are always up-to-date with their security strategies and implementations.

Who Needs PCI Compliance?

Any business handling, processing, transmitting, and storing credit card data is required to become PCI compliant. Contrary to what many entrepreneurs believe, PCI compliance is not just for big businesses. Even small and medium businesses should comply with the standards too. Merchants and service providers can become PCI compliant by filling out a form called the Self-Assessment Questionnaires (SAQ). There are four types of SAQs, and each type accommodates various kinds of businesses and processing methods. If you are handling millions of transactions annually, you may be required to undergo an onsite audit performed by a qualified security assessor.

Why Should You Follow PCI Standard?

Data thieves know where and what to look for to acquire the information they need. For starters, they know that getting a cardholder’s Primary Account Number (PAN) and their authentication data makes it easy to use that cardholder’s identity and make purchases. Unauthorized access to credit card data often happens in payment system databases, hacked wireless networks in your office or store, and compromised card readers. If you don’t know how to protect these weak points in your business, you will lose your customers’ trust. In some cases, negligence can even put you at legal risk.

How to Meet PCI Requirements?

To meet PCI requirements, you must prove you can secure your point of sale systems, routers, transmission and storage of credit card data, record printouts, and card readers. Apart from the self-assessment forms we discussed earlier, you may also need to meet is the PIN transaction security requirements. This includes guidelines for PIN terminals, such as PIN pads, unattended payment terminals, and POS devices. If you are using software or applications to receive credit card payments, you would need to make sure you are using validated payment applications.

Meeting the requirements set by the PCI Security Standards Council ensures you are not just using the latest technology but also the recommended strategies against data breaches. When your customers trust you enough with their personal information, you can feel confident in assuring them that their details are in safe hands.

If you would like guidance in ensuring your business is PCI compliant, contact us. We would be happy to put our extensive experience in IT compliance and security protocols to work for you.