Are you PCI Compliant?

What is PCI compliance?

According to a July 27, 2007 article on the Internet Retailer website, Visa USA is now focusing more of its attention toward bringing small merchants into compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. According to Visa, more than 80% of the data security breeches involving customer information occurred at small merchants generating fewer than 20,000 Visa e-commerce transactions, or fewer than 1 million total Visa transactions, per year.

Although these merchants, classified as “Level 4,” represent 99% of all merchants handling Visa transactions, due to their relatively low volume they generate less than one third of Visa transactions.

What happens if you’re not in compliance?

The goal of PCI compliance is to safeguard customers’ credit card information. This can protect your customers against identity theft, fraudulent charges and credit card forgery.

In addition, in the event that there is a security breech and your customers’ credit card data is stolen, your business may be liable for hefty fines and may even lose your ability to process Visa transactions.

What should you do?

One thing you might want to check on is what your shopping cart software does with credit card information. While you may not think you’re storing customer credit card information, it’s possible your shopping cart has other ideas. One shopping cart I use gives the option of storing credit card data. We found the option was turned on by default, so we turned it off.

There are a number of specific actions to take, but in general, to be in compliance you shouldn’t store any customer credit card information — particularly PIN data or the card account number — any longer than is absolutely necessary to process the transaction.

For more information about PCI compliance:

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Copyright © Diane M. Aull, an online consultant for small and mid-sized businesses. For more information about her services, visit or BootstrapSEO. For resources and tools for home based workers, visit Torka's Home for Wayward Girls.

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