Years ago, it may have been acceptable for businesses to only accept cash or checks; however, the need to have a merchant account to process credit cards has become necessary in order to compete in the marketplace. This is true whether the business is run from a traditional brick and mortar location or from an online presence.
With identify fraud on the rise; the need for businesses to adhere to PCI compliance guidelines is greater than ever. Businesses that do not take steps to protect their customers’ information during the credit card processing process can find themselves having a lot of explaining to do in the event of a data breach.
Benefits of Being PCI Compliant
The number one reason for a business to maintain PCI compliance is to avoid data breaches and the theft of credit card information. The best line of defense is for businesses to protect themselves against known threats and deal with vulnerabilities in their system through continued testing to try to stay a step ahead of future threats.
Being PCI compliant is a step toward protecting business data that may be subject to additional regulation. Businesses that are required to adhere to the stipulations of SARB-OX and HIPAA regulations need to prove their systems can stand up to security threats.
Consequences of Lax Compliance
If a business has not taken the effort to enforce PCI compliance, they are allowing themselves to be vulnerable to security threats. They are also risking damaging their reputation and losing customers in the event of data theft. Investors will be less inclined to keep stock in the company if it is a public corporation.
A catastrophic data theft that could have been prevented through an effective PCI compliance plan could cause consequences that would prevent the business from operating effectively in the future. Lawsuits from customers who suffered losses because their data was breached, in addition to fines from card issuers and the government could be costly. The business may also see their merchant accounts cancelled, and will have difficulty opening an account with another provider.
The PCI compliance process is not something that is a one-time deal for a business. It is something that needs to be an ongoing process to protect a business’s data, in addition to the data that they collect from their customers through credit card processing. Therefore, it is in the best interest of all businesses that deal with credit cards and sensitive data to maintain PCI compliance.