PCI Compliance

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What is PCI?

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of security standards designed to ensure that ALL companies that accept, process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.

To whom does the PCI DSS apply?

The PCI DSS applies to ANY organization, regardless of size or number of transactions, that accepts, transmits or stores any cardholder data.

What are the PCI compliance ‘levels’ and how are they determined?

All merchants will fall into one of the four merchant levels based on Visa transaction volume over a 12-month period. Transaction volume is based on the aggregate number of Visa transactions (inclusive of credit, debit and prepaid) from a merchant Doing Business As (‘DBA’). In cases where a merchant corporation has more than one DBA, Visa acquirers must consider the aggregate volume of transactions stored, processed or transmitted by the corporate entity to determine the validation level. If data is not aggregated, such that the corporate entity does not store, process or transmit cardholder data on behalf of multiple DBAs, acquirers will continue to consider the DBA’s individual transaction volume to determine the validation level.

Do organizations using third-party processors have to be PCI DSS compliant?

Yes. Merely using a third-party company does not exclude a company from PCI DSS compliance. It may cut down on their risk exposure and consequently reduce the effort to validate compliance. However, it does not mean they can ignore the PCI DSS.

My business has multiple locations, is each location required to validate PCI compliance?

If your business locations process under the same Tax ID, then typically you are only required to validate once annually for all locations. And, submit quarterly passing network scans by a PCI SSC Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV) for each location, if applicable.

My company doesn’t store credit card data so PCI compliance doesn’t apply to us, right?

If you accept credit or debit cards as a form of payment, then PCI compliance applies to you. The storage of card data is risky, so if you don’t store card data, then becoming secure and compliant may be easier.

Are debit card transactions in scope for PCI?

In-scope cards include any debit, credit, and pre-paid cards branded with one of the five card association/brand logos that participate in the PCI SSC – American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, and Visa International.

What is defined as ‘cardholder data’?

The PCI Security Standards Council (SSC) defines ‘cardholder data’ as the full Primary Account Number (PAN) or the full PAN along with any of the following elements:

  • Cardholder name
  • Expiration date
  • Service code

Sensitive Authentication Data, which must also be protected, includes full magnetic stripe data, CAV2, CVC2, CVV2, CID, PINs, PIN blocks and more.

What constitutes a Service Provider?

The PCI SSC defines a Service Provider this way:

“Business entity that is not a payment brand, directly involved in the processing, storage, or transmission of cardholder data. This also includes companies that provide services that control or could impact the security of cardholder data.” 

The “merchant as a service provider” role is further specified by the PCI SSC as “a merchant that accepts payment cards as payment for goods and/or services…if the services sold result in storing, processing, or transmitting cardholder data on behalf of other merchants or service providers.”

What is a payment gateway?

Payment gateways connect a merchant to the bank or processor that is acting as the front-end connection to the card brands. They are called gateways because they take many inputs from a variety of different applications and route those inputs to the appropriate bank or processor. Gateways communicate with the bank or processor using dial-up connections, web-based connections or privately held leased lines.

What is PA-DSS?

PA-DSS refers to Payment Application Data Security Standard maintained by the PCI Security Standards Council (SSC) to address the critical issue of payment application security. The requirements within the PA-DSS are designed to ensure that vendors provide products which support merchants’ efforts to maintain PCI DSS compliance and eliminate the storage of sensitive cardholder data.

What if my business refuses to cooperate?

PCI is not, in itself, a law. The standard was created by the major card brands Visa, MasterCard, Discover, AMEX and JCB. At their acquirers’/service providers’ discretion, merchants that do not comply with PCI DSS may be subject to fines, card replacement costs, costly forensic audits, brand damage, etc., should a breach event occur.For a little upfront effort and cost to comply with the PCI DSS, you greatly help reduce your risk from facing these extremely unpleasant and costly consequences. Learn how ControlScan helps simplify PCI DSS.

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