In 2019 alone, at least 650,572 identity theft cases were reported, making it the most common type of fraud. If you’re a business, these numbers are alarming and should prompt you to find ways to protect your business from fraudsters, one of which is through PCI compliance, a standard followed by businesses that accept payments from credit cards.
Although not legally mandated, PCI compliance is an important strategy to embrace because it allows you to protect both your business and your customers.
You may also incur fines from the PCI Security Standards Council should there be a breach in your data and you are not compliant. But how exactly can you become PCI compliant?
PCI has a set of general standards for different businesses, so you have to know where you stand. By understanding your current compliance level depending on how you handle data, how you process customer transactions and what banks and merchant providers you work with.
Once you know where you stand, it will be easier to take the next steps to becoming more PCI compliant.
Depending on what business category you fall in, you can choose from one of the nine versions of the self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) guidebook that will help you analyze your current compliance level further.
SAQ is also more than just answering questions because it guides you through the entire step of PCI compliance where you’ll go through different requirements answering them with a “yes” or “no” so that you can determine the areas in your payment security scheme that you need to improve or change.
Once you identified your weak points, make sure to implement changes that will help you increase the security of your business. When you’re done with these changes, you should take the SAQ again to make sure that you’re now fully compliant.
Finding the right merchant provider isn’t only important to help you process payments with ease, but it will also help you increase the security of your business by offering data tokenization.
This step is usually offered by some merchant providers to secure all customers’ credit card information in a web-based portal and not on a local server that could be easily hacked. By working with a merchant provider that offers data tokenization, you’re keeping your data safer and protect your business from huge liabilities in the event of a breach.
Finally, you need to fill out a formal Attestation of Compliance (AOC) to formally claim that your business is already fully compliant with all PCI standards.
A qualified security assessor will review your SAQ based on your business category and create a report that your compliance is true or not.
Once you have a formal attestation of your compliance to PCI standards, you can then use the paperwork to file with your bank or credit card processor. These organizations may require your SAQ, AOC and other relevant paperwork.