Today, credit cards are used for 28 percent of all payments—the highest level since 2016. As credit and debit card usage gains more traction, all possible measures must be taken for secure handling because card fraud remains a constant threat. PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance aims to hold major card brands responsible for enhancing security standards and mitigating credit and debit card fraud risk. Any business that stores, processes or transmits payment cardholder data must follow a set of requirements to ensure compliance with PCI DSS and protect businesses and their customers.
The Payment Card Industry Security Council manages the PCI compliance standards while card networks and payment processors enforce them. All merchants are required to be PCI compliant. However, requirements vary depending on your business's size and the volume of transactions processed annually.
As PCI compliance remains a top priority, here are five things you should know:
Compliance Levels: There are four PCI compliance levels based on the transaction volume the business handles annually. Thresholds for each level may vary depending on the payment card brand. Discover®, Visa® and Mastercard® typically follow the same criteria, while American Express® has their own.
The requirements for Discover, Visa and Mastercard are:
Level 1: Merchants processing over 6 million card transactions per year. Service providers with more than 300,000 transactions per year.
Level 2: Merchants processing 1 to 6 million transactions per year.
Level 3: Merchants processing 20,000 to 1 million transactions per year.
Level 4: Merchants processing less than 20,000 transactions per year.
The requirements for American Express are:
Level 1: Merchants processing 2.5 million or more card transactions per year.
Level 2: Merchants processing 50,000 to 2.5 million transactions per year.
Level 3: Merchants processing fewer than 50,000 transactions per year.
(Level 4 designation doesn't apply to American Express.)
Benefits of PCI Compliance: Of course, the most critical benefit of PCI compliance is that it reduces security risks as companies implement firewalls, encrypt data, build security management systems and more. PCI compliance also helps give consumers peace of mind. Cyberattacks and data breaches are constantly occurring, and consumers want to know their card information is safe and secure. If a business takes the necessary steps to remain compliant, it will build customer trust.
Additionally, adhering to PCI compliance can help mitigate legal and financial liabilities in the event of a security breach. If a breach occurs and your company is sued by impacted parties, PCI compliance can prove your business took necessary precautions to protect its customers' information.
PCI Compliance Maintenance: This isn't a one-time task. PCI compliance requires businesses to complete annual self-assessment questionnaires (SAQs) and ongoing maintenance and audits throughout the year to maintain their certification. Computer networks must remain secure, regular security checks must be conducted to ensure anti-virus software is up to date, and the network must be scanned for vulnerabilities.
Furthermore, proper compliance requires password changes at least every 90 days and employee training to understand data security best practices. Lastly, there needs to be documented security policies and procedures created and maintained to protect consumers' payment and personal data.
Non-Compliance Risk: Failure to meet PCI DSS requirements not only puts your company and customers at risk but can also lead to heavy monthly fines ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 by the PCI Security Standards Council. These fines vary depending on transaction volume. As previously mentioned, data breaches can lead to lawsuits. If your company opts not to comply, you will likely be liable for security breaches and costly payouts.
Failure to take the necessary steps to protect your customers’ private information can leave them vulnerable to cyberattacks. Once their information is impacted, your company’s reputation can be significantly damaged, making consumers less likely to trust you. In addition to a damaged reputation, your revenue will likely take a negative hit due to the loss of clients.
Gaining Compliance Can Be Difficult: Becoming PCI compliant is a straightforward task; however, familiarity with the topic is helpful. The technical standards can be confusing if you're unfamiliar with data security and payment card processing. Hiring a specialist in this industry can assure that data security best practices are followed and that all requirements of PCI DSS compliance are met. This extra step can help you avoid potential penalties for failure to comply.
Secure PCI Compliance with REPAY
Implementing a payment processing solution that maintains compliance is the ideal way to protect your business and keep your customers’ trust. The integrated payment processing platform by REPAY® is PCI DSS compliant and has been developed and designed to ensure that your business remains secure and compliant with every transaction.
Start with REPAY today. Our experts are here to guide you and help reduce your risks of breach and fraud.