If you have just started a new business, you may not hear about PCI compliance before. It’s even possible that the first time you’re going to hear about the word “PCI compliance” is when you receive an unexpected fee that’ll show up on your monthly processing statement.
Whether you like it or not, PCI compliance is something that you must not ignore if you want to continue running your business.
What Is PCI Compliance?
So what does PCI compliance means? PCI compliance refers to the set of practices and guidelines that businesses must follow when they accept credit card transactions or payments. This credit card information security standard is used alongside the most major credit card providers in the world, such as Visa, Mastercard, Amex, etc. So, if you want your business to process transactions with these credit card types, you must have a PCI compliance.
Does a Business Have to Be PCI Compliant?
As mentioned earlier, you need to be PCI compliant if you want to process credit card transactions from major credit card providers. In some states, it’s illegal to store the credit card information of your customers. You could face a hefty fine if your business will not comply with PCI standards.
Even though PCI compliance may seem like an unnecessary regulatory requirement to run a business, it’s actually very important. Complying with this regulatory requirement helps protect your customer’s credit card information from hacks and thefts. Most importantly, PCI compliance will help protect your business in the event of a data breach.
It’s true that there’s no defense or protection against hacks or data breach, but if you’ve established PCI compliance beforehand, you’ll be able to minimize the risks of getting hacked and provide better security for your business.
What Happens If You Don’t Comply?
If your business doesn’t comply with the PCI standards, you could face a fine ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 a month. You can also end up losing your agreement with your bank as they’ll most likely terminate your contract with them or face higher transaction fees as a penalty. This can be very rough, especially for small businesses as it can immediately shut down their operations.
The most alarming thing about PCI compliance is that even though companies are able to comply in their first year of operation, it’s found that the majority of them fail to maintain their PCI compliance.
Maintaining PCI Compliance
It’s important to remember that PCI compliance is not a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process and it’s the responsibility of the business owner for the company to be compliant all-year-round. Thinking that you only have to be PCI compliant for just a year is a bad thing to do.
You may not experience a data breach the previous year because your business was PCI compliant. But what most business owners don’t know is that data breaches may occur at a later date where you’re no longer PCI compliant.
So, once you’ve become PCI compliant, we suggest that you implement the following practices, so you can maintain it:
- Maintain a secure computer network in your business. Use firewalls and prohibit the use of the internet in your payment system except for payment processing.
- Conduct security checks on your payment system on a regular basis.
- Change your password every month and make sure that you use a unique password for each of your staff that’ll use the payment system, so they don’t end up using the same passwords.
- Conduct system access audits every month. Also, make sure that you only give your staff the level of access to the payment system that’s required for them to do their job.
- Provide an employee training program especially about PCI compliance and data security practices.
- Create a set of security policies and procedures that document all the practices mentioned above as well as other ways to protect payment and credit card information of your customers.
Whether your business is still new or already established, you must not ignore PCI compliance. Being able to accept credit card payments is a privilege, and not all businesses are able to do it. The fact that you have to do your best to protect your customers and your business from data breaches is also a huge responsibility.