PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. The rigorous application of these merchant account standards ensures that credit card merchant account holders are in compliance with industry standards for financial data security and is a key component of maintaining customer financial security. Every business that accepts credit cards must be PCI DSS compliant, as it is a requirement from the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCISSC).
PCISSC Oversight and Certification for Merchant Account Holders
The PCISSC, or PCI council, was originally formed with American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB, MasterCard Worldwide, and Visa International in September of 2006. The purpose of the council is to manage PCI DSS with the goal of monitoring merchant account holders and credit card processing. The PCI council claims to be independent of each of the PCI council founding firms.
The PCI council created the PCI Data Security Standards, which consist of 12 significant requirements, including numerous sub-directives that must be adhered to in order for processors of credit card machine transactions to gain a compliance certification and a merchant account listing on the PCI Standards Council website. These standards prevent fraud, hacking, and other security threats.
Merchant Account DSS Non-compliance Penalties are Significant
Noncompliant merchant accounts face severe penalties including escalating fines starting at $10,000 which maximize near $600,000. These are not small numbers, and most of these fines could bankrupt your company. Noncompliant merchant accounts may also face the loss of credit card processing privileges in perpetuity!
Important Guidelines for Becoming PCI DSS Compliant
The following are some important guidelines to ensure your merchant account remains PCI DSS compliant:
- Verify that credit card processing receipts do not show the expiration date and no more than the last 4 digits of the credit card number
- Merchant account holders should complete an annual Self-Assessment Questionnaire, a form that includes questions about your policies, procedures, and security measures
- Network Vulnerability Scans must be performed once a quarter that check account networks for vulnerabilities that can lead to cardholder data loss. Not only does this meet PCI DSS compliance rules, it may prevent you from being the target of identity-theft class action lawsuits!
Help Prevent Credit Card Merchant Account Fraud
In order to help in preventing credit card machine and credit fraud, many merchant service vendors offer cash rewards to any customers who report businesses that are not in compliance. Not only can customers help facilitate safer financial transactions by being vendor watchdogs, customers also enjoy lower prices through decreased costs to the major credit card services.
In summary, ensure your merchant account is PCIDSS compliant and pick a merchant service that helps you navigate the important guidelines provided by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council. You’ll rest easier at night, and your business will not have to worry about substantial fines or penalties.
MerchantService.com provides leading edge credit card processing and business management solutions to merchants through a consultative approach by educating merchants on credit card interchange fees and practices to ensure they are receiving the best possible rates when accepting electronic payments. MerchantService.com delivers expertly consulted merchant account services with a focus on increasing merchant bottom-line profits.