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What Are The Payment Card Industry Security Standards? Find Out Here

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In today’s age of increased online shopping and digital transactions, credit cards have become a staple form of payment for most consumers. As such, it is important to know how the information that you include on your card can be protected. The Payment Card Industry ( PCI) Security Standards Council has created a set of policies that can be adopted by merchants to protect their customers’ information. 

By understanding these standards and why they were created, you will have a greater understanding of how your favorite retailers keep your financial information. Find out below the PCI security standards.

What are PCI Standards?

Merchants who accept credit cards know that they must adhere to certain compliance codes in order to protect consumers against identity theft, debit, or credit card fraud. These compliance standards are called the Payment Card Industry Security Standards (PCI). Compliance with these security standards helps businesses avoid costly fines and helps protect consumer data from breaches. 

It is important to note that the standards are not simply a list of specifications for business owners, but they are a legal requirement set forth by the card brands. That’s why your company would need to team up with leaders in PCI compliance validation services as you concentrate on your business growth. Not only do the standards protect consumers, but businesses as well.

The PCI Compliance standards promote security measures including:

  • Encryption of cardholder data
  • Monitoring systems for breaches, and
  • Regularly testing security systems

Difference Between PCI Security Standards and Other Compliance Requirements?

Compliance requirements vary depending on the industry you are in because each business is required to watch out for potential risks that could put their customers at risk. However, the PCI standards are not federal regulations, but rather a set of guidelines created by the credit card companies so merchants would have a benchmark to follow to protect consumer data and prevent breaches.

Since each industry is at risk for breaches in different ways, compliance standards are typically industry-specific. For example, HIPAA regulations are health care specific and the Federal Communications Commission regulates communication companies to ensure consumer data privacy. PCI security standards are compliant with all businesses that accept credit cards across multiple industries.

How to Find Out if Your Business Is PCI Compliant?

If you currently do not hold an on-site merchant account, then it’s easy to tell if you’re complying with the guidelines. When accepting credit cards online or over the phone, there should be no need to submit your company information through any other process than submitting a standard application along with your personal identification.

If there is another way to get set up as an approved customer, there is a high chance you’ll have to submit a list of information about your company and business practices. Any other application or submission process it’s usually not going to lead to an approved merchant account, which means you will be left out of the loop for credit card processing. In this case, it can be assumed that your business does not uphold PCI compliance standards.

What Are The Penalties for Non-Compliance?

Being found guilty of not upholding the PCI security standards can cost businesses thousands in fines. Compliance with PCI security standards is required by the major credit card companies including American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, MasterCard Worldwide, and Visa Inc., if merchants accept their cards without complying with these policies they risk higher fees, fines, and risk losing customers due to security risks.

The penalties for non-compliance depend on the severity of the infraction but can reach into the thousands or even millions in some cases. Since 2009, businesses that refuse to comply with PCI standards pay up to $100,000 in administrative penalties per month. This is why it’s so important to protect consumer data by upholding PCI compliance standards. Merchants also risk their customers’ trust if they are found guilty of not protecting consumer data.

Why Security Standards Important For Your Business

Security standards could help protect your organization and save you money because they establish accepted security practices that dramatically reduce the chance of hackers gaining unauthorized entry into your system.

Hence, the PCI security standards have become one of the most widely used security standards in existence, but not always for positive reasons. Many companies have been forced into compliance with this standard after being breached or hacked by cyber thieves who then demanded immediate payment through credit card processing fees.

The PCI  security standards aim to provide guidance and support for preventing payment card fraud but are not an assurance of security. It is vital that all merchants and service providers abide by the standards in order to protect themselves from criminal liability.

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