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What is PCI and PCI Compliance?

You may hear a lot about PCI and PCI compliance, but you may not be very familiar with what this actually is. This is not something that you can ignore, especially since it’s now mandatory to be PCI compliant. It’s understandable that this can be complicated, which is why this article is here to help. This article will take a closer look at what PCI compliance is and what you can do to stay in line with it.

What is PCI?

PCI means “payment card industry”. This is the part of the financial industry that includes the different organizations that are responsible for things like storing, processing, and transmitting the data for cardholders. This industry covers both debit and credit cards. The term PCI is often used along with DSS, creating the term for Payment Card Data Security Standards. This is a set of practices that have been established to ensure that all of the cardholder information is handled with the highest level of security.

What is PCI Compliance

PCI compliance is something that is mandated by credit card companies in order to make sure that there is a lot of security for credit card transactions within the PCI. PCI compliance refers to both the technical and operational standards that it is expected that businesses follow to protect and secure credit card data that is offered by cardholders and then transmitted through processing credit card transactions.

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is the agency that is responsible for any oversight of credit card processing. PCI compliance is a major part of security protocols for credit card companies.

Is PCI Compliance mandatory?

Due to the security risks involved with accepting cards, business owners must ensure that they are taking the necessary security precautions. PCI compliance became mandatory on December 15, 2004. It is a security standard, not a law. Compliance with it is mandated by contracts that merchants sign with major card brands (VISA, MasterCard, Amex, etc.) By not being compliant, you are putting your business at risk, without the protection that PCI compliance brings, your business could be vulnerable to attacks and data breaches. If you are not compliant, and a data breach occurs, your business can pay penalties ranging between $5,000 and $500,000. By not being compliant, you run the risk of losing your merchant account and you could be placed in the member alert as a high-risk merchant, making you ineligible to obtain a new merchant account.

Tips for PCI Compliance

Your business can meet all PCI requirements and secure its cardholder data by following this 12-step PCI compliance checklist:

  1. Set up firewalls to protect cardholder data
  2. Avoid using default passwords and security measures
  3. Security store sensitive cardholder data
  4. Encrypt cardholder data transmitted on public networks
  5. Install and update antivirus software
  6. Deploy and maintain secure systems and applications
  7.  Limit access to cardholder data
  8. Assign unique identifiers for users with data access
  9. Restrict physical cardholder data access
  10.  Monitor and track access to networks and cardholder data
  11.  Regularly test security systems
  12.  Create and enforce an information security policy


PCI compliance is a necessity for any business. By ensuring that your business is in compliance with these mandates, you can make sure that your transactions are safe and secure. You need to take a great deal of care when it comes to your customer’s credit card information and PCI compliance is a big part of this. PCI compliance is an ongoing process that requires regular evaluations and assessments of current systems and practices. There are many requirements that can be confusing and difficult to implement. Please note this is only some basic information on PCI, Card 1 and PCI are not the same company. PCI is a different entity, it is your responsibility to keep track of your records of compliance, next scan date, monthly and annual compliance, etc.

For more information call us at 310.826.7000 to help you get compliant.