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Small Business Insight

Are You PCI Compliant?

pci_compliance

Payment Card Industry Compliance, or PCI compliance, is vitally important to anyone accepting payment through credit card, in order to avoid fines and protect customers. The PCI security standards council (PCI SSC) was set up to ensure that all customers' data is stored properly and encrypted to protect the integrity of your business, and the safety of your customers.

What does PCI compliance entail?
For small to medium-sized companies, PCI compliance will entail ensuring that the company you use to process payments through credit cards is 3rd party approved through the PCI SSC. It also includes passing a security screening test set up by the PCI SSC every ninety days. This is an automatic test that searches for vulnerabilities in your networks and must be done by an approved scanning vendor. While you may not know how to handle these things yourself, it is important to make sure they're taken care of so that you stay PCI compliant.
 
Why should you be PCI compliant?

The most important reason is your customers' safety. By becoming PCI compliant, you offer greater security for your consumers, and make sure that you are doing your best to protect them. If you are non-compliant, you could lose their trust or compromise their data, neither of which will help your business.

There are also penalties for non-compliance. "The payment brands may, at their discretion, fine an acquiring bank $5,000 to $100,000 per month for PCI compliance violations. The banks will most likely pass this fine along until it eventually hits the merchant. Furthermore, the bank will also most likely either terminate your relationship or increase transaction fees. Penalties are not openly discussed nor widely publicized, but they can be catastrophic to a small business. It is important to be familiar with your merchant account agreement, which should outline your exposure." The penalties can be extensive and can bankrupt small businesses. Ensuring PCI compliance will help you avoid the costly fines, and can save you thousands of dollars a year.

How can I make sure that I'm PCI compliant?
Only work with safe electronic payment processing services who are PCI compliant. You might also want to look for a PCI compliance manager, who can help you keep your business compliant. If you have the right team working for you, they will make sure that you stay PCI compliant, protecting your customers and yourself. For more information about exact requirements, see the VMS article about PCI compliance. 

Final Thoughts

If you are interested in this topic, here are a couple more blogs available to you: insight.getvms.com/four-types-of-credit-card-processors-to-avoid AND insight.getvms.com/what-is-pci-compliance-and-how-does-it-affect-my-business

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