If you accept credit cards, you’ll want to be familiar with PCI DSS – the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It's important that you understand what this standard means.
As a merchant, you’re a target for fraud and data compromise. The PCI DSS exists to help you protect cardholders’ data.
You might have questions about the policies and procedures within the PCI DSS, including what they are and how to comply with them.
The PCI DSS is a requirement for merchants, software developers and payment device manufacturers that aims to protect cardholder data and reduce credit card fraud.
There are 12 requirements that span the following six groups:
This refers to the PCI Security Standards Council – the organization that manages the PCI DSS.
The founding members of the council have to enforce the PCI DSS. They include American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, MasterCard Worldwide and Visa Inc.
According to the PCI SSC, there’s a three-step process for you to follow. These steps include:
Step 1: Assessment. Identifying cardholder data, taking an inventory of IT assets and business processes for payment card processing, and analyzing them for any vulnerabilities.
Step 2: Remediation. Fixing vulnerabilities and eliminating the storage of unprotected cardholder data.
Step 3: Reporting. Compiling and submitting required reports to the appropriate acquiring bank and card brands.
There are a few ways to be sure your business is compliant.
The first is to engage a qualified security assessor or an approved scanning vendor to evaluate your procedures. These organizations can scan your system for any vulnerabilities.
The PCI SSC offers a list of approved vendors to help you get started.
Another option is to perform a self-evaluation to assess whether your business complies. The PCI SSC offers a self-assessment questionnaire to help you understand areas where your business is compliant, and where it might need additional support.
As a merchant that processes, stores or transmits cardholder data, you’ll have to comply with PCI DSS standards, but you may not have to validate whether they comply.
Each credit card brand has specific rules about what "level" of merchants need to validate compliance. These levels are based on the number of annual transactions the merchant processes.
You can find more information on validation requirements with the following card brands:
Your business isn’t currently required by federal law to comply with the PCI DSS, however some states have laws that refer to the standard, or otherwise require merchants to protect cardholder data.
If your business doesn’t comply with the standard, it could face hefty fines from the major card brands and even be held liable if cardholder data is compromised.
If you still have questions about PCI DSS requirements, be sure to check out the council's PCI DSS Quick Reference Guide for more information.
Contact Comerica Merchant Services to learn more about PCI DSS compliance and secure payment processing at 888.591.5099.
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