The ability to accept credit cards as a form of payment is important for your business. Consumers like to use such payment sources for convenience and their protection. They often earn rewards when they use a certain card and that gives them an incentive to complete the purchase with it.

Your merchant account allows you to accept credit card payments correctly and securely. To do so, you must comply with all regulations, and this includes PCI. If you aren’t familiar with the term PCI, it stands for Payment Card Industry. Understanding what does PCI stands for, how to comply, and the cost can help you to avoid issues. It can also help you avoid paying more than you must.

What is PCI?

If you aren’t familiar with the term PCI, it stands for Payment Card Industry. Sometimes you will see it as PCI DSS for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Such regulations are in place to ensure any entity accepting credit card payments is responsible for that information. These regulations ensure the data relating to a customer and their card is stored correctly and securely. It gives them peace of mind using such a payment source as well as protection.

PCI was implemented in 2006 and continues to be monitored and updated. All of the major credit card issuers are on board with it. This includes Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Updates and changes are added regularly to ensure the highest level of safety and security for credit card transactions.

Merchant account providers have a responsibility to ensure the process they follow abides by such updates. As a business owner, you can’t rely solely on your merchant account provider to be current on PCI issues. Make sure you are aware of the regulations and any changes. Your business must have a method for processing and storing the data that is always in compliance. You can’t use the excuse you weren’t aware of changes to the regulations if you are found to be out of compliance.

Any entity that accepts credit card payments agrees to follow the PCI compliance regulations. Failure to do so can have serious repercussions. It can put your business at the center of a lawsuit with a huge payout required to end it. The legal fees can add up quickly too. 

 

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Why is PCI Compliance Important?

In addition to such fines or a possible lawsuit, there are other reasons to follow PCI compliance regulations. Failure to do so may result in your merchant access being revoked. This means you can’t accept credit card payments for orders anymore. The volume of customers this can cost you is unbelievable! You don’t want them to buy from a competitor because they can’t use their payment method of choice.

It can be extremely difficult to regain your merchant account once it is has been canceled for non-compliance with PCI regulations. You will have a hard time finding another provider willing to take on the risk if you have had your account shut down. If you do get accepted as a high-risk business, the fees involved increase.

Non-compliance can cost you the trust of your customers. They aren’t going to understand why a small business or even a large corporation isn’t complying with ways to keep consumer details protected. They may feel you are only interested in making money or you are cutting corners at their expense. You need customers to trust you so they become loyal and give you repeat business.

How much does it cost?

The cost of PCI fees depends on the coverage you have. Take some time to identify the levels of coverage and the applicable fees. The minimum requirement is the annual fee of $99 or $19.95 per month if you don’t pay it for the entire year at once. If you aren’t in compliance, your merchant account provider may charge you a monthly non-compliance fee until you get this straightened out.

Sometimes, they will remove those fees they charged when you comply. In other instances, they may apply them towards your annual fee and give you a credit, reducing the amount you owe. If you aren’t sure if you are in compliance or not, reach out to your merchant account and talk to an agent. They can review the account with you and help you may any changes if necessary.

The risk of a data breach is hanging over any business, no matter how large or small. Even with advanced security in place, it can happen. Hackers use sophisticated information too and they can sometimes get into a system, despite your best efforts to keep them out. Some merchant account providers offer insurance against data breaches for a fee.

The cost depends on the coverage provided. Verify all of the terms of what is covered and what isn’t. Data breach insurance coverage is only a good investment if there aren’t tons of loopholes. You may need to meet stringent criteria to show you do all you can to prevent such a breach from occurring. If not, they can deny your claim.

Merchant Account PCI Compliance Assistance

Your merchant account provider should do all they can to help you stay PCI compliant. This includes offering education, answering your questions, and giving you access to any compliance changes. Find out about the tools and resources offered to help you with PCI regulations. If your merchant account doesn’t offer them, it may be a good idea to consider a different provider. You are paying for PCI compliance fees, and after understanding what PCI stands for, and they should offer you plenty in exchange for that!

If you don’t have a merchant account provider yet, this is something to keep in mind while you shop around. Verify they are doing all they can to help you with PCI so nothing falls through the cracks. The fees are significantly less than paying fines for non-compliance or losing your merchant account!

 

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