PCI Data Security Standard compliance (PCI DSS) are the rules put in place to protect consumer information. All merchants that accept credit card payments (including debit cards and pre-paid cards) with one of the five participating brands are required to comply with these rules. The five brands are Visa, MasterCard, Discover, JCB, and American Express.

These rules ensure that any place that processes, stores and/or transmits credit card information protects that information. Think of these rules as added protection to keep your private information, such as your address and social security number, from falling into the wrong hands.

If you are a merchant that accepts any sort of card payment from one of the five brands, you have to comply with the rules. This is especially important for small businesses because if you do not comply, there may be repercussions. The brands will fine the bank and the bank will pass the cost down to you. You also run the risk of the bank ending their relationship with you or raising the fees associated with transactions. If you run a small business, not complying with the rules could drive you out of business.

PCI DSS has three main steps for you to follow in keeping in compliance with their rules.

The first step is to assess your risk. Evaluate your credit card processes and pinpoint areas where consumer information might be vulnerable.

The second step is to remediate. This means you have to fix the vulnerable areas and try to avoid storing consumer information unless it is absolutely necessary.

The third step is to report your information to the brands and the acquiring bank. This information should include reports detailing what problems you found, if any, and the steps you took to repair the problem.

By complying with the rules put in place for consumer protection, you will save yourself costly fines and fees. Even better, you will be doing your part to protect consumer information.

[Want a merchant processing service on your side? Access Payment Systems pays special attention to PCI DDS compliance issues, and makes sure you are covered with your processing. Call us for a quote today.]

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