In order to protect the privacy and sensitive data of customers such as credit card numbers and other cardholder information, call centers must adhere to the Payment Card Industry Checklist, or PCI compliance checklist. The PCI compliance checklist was first introduced by the PCI Security Standards Council in 2006 by leading credit card companies that include MasterCard, Visa and Discover.

Primarily, the objective of the PCI compliance checklist is to ensure data security of consumer data through encryption technology and other security measures. If a call center fails to comply with the PCI compliance checklist, they can face heavy fines of up to $600 for each violation. Repeat offenders can face even more severe consequences, and businesses that fail to protect the data of their customers may end up losing them too as a consequence.

In this article, we will explore the PCI compliance checklist, along with the significance of PCI compliance in general.

The significance of PCI compliance

It is critical for call centers that perform credit card transactions to achieve PCI call center compliance prior to performing these transactions. Any merchant that stores, processes and transmits any credit or debit card information must be PCI compliant in order to avoid hefty fines and penalties.

By achieving PCI compliance and meeting the PCI compliance checklist, merchants are also protected by an additional layer of PCI DSS protocols that serve as an excellent trust building measure between service providers and consumers.

On the other hand, if a call center fails to achieve call center PCI DSS compliance, they can be subject to heavy financial losses, cybersecurity risks and reputational damage.

PCI Compliance Checklist

Benefits of PCI Compliance

There are several benefits for call centers that meet the PCI compliance checklist. Some of these include:

  • Reduced risk of data breaches: The most important benefit of achieving PCI compliance is the reduction of data breaches that a call center may face if they are not PCI compliant. By adhering to call center PCI compliance, employees also follow security best practices to protect sensitive information of customers.
  • Builds customer trust: A PCI compliant call center is more likely to attract customers than a non-compliant business. This is because customers feel assured of their credit card security with PCI compliant call centers, and are more likely to make recurring payments with them.
  • Enhanced security: Through PCI compliance, call center security is also significantly enhanced because call center agents must follow PCI DSS security best practices to keep sensitive customer data safe.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: By achieving PCI compliance, call centers can greatly improve their customer satisfaction by making sure that the credit card information of customers is kept safe, and not disclosed anywhere.

Maintaining PCI Compliance

After achieving PCI compliance, it is also important for merchants to develop and maintain PCI DSS compliance in order to meet the PCI compliance checklist. In order to do so, all systems, applications and software within a call center must be checked comprehensively through a series of tests to ensure that cardholder data is kept safe at all times.

Here are the following requirements that call centers must follow to maintain PCI DSS compliance:

  1. All software that is to be used within a call center must be developed and maintained using end-to-end encrypted and secure coding techniques. This will ensure that coding data is only accessed by authorized personnel, and that coding conventions are followed at all times. Through these protocols, identifying and resolving coding errors also becomes relatively easier. Moreover, performing regular scans of software and programs will also keep data safe from any vulnerabilities that are otherwise exploited by hackers and malicious threats.
  2. Call centers are required to develop systems and applications that are secure from unwanted threats and hackers. This involves installing antivirus programs and anti-phishing tools that are kept up to date on a frequent basis. Moreover, assigning a team of IT experts to enforce cardholder security is another important measure to safeguard cardholder information.
  3. Call centers and merchants must also ensure that systems, programs and software are frequently monitored to identify any vulnerabilities and security events of concern. This includes physically monitoring systems, databases and programs to prevent unauthorized personnel from accessing and making changes to cardholder data.

By successfully following these requirements, call centers can be certain that their systems, software and programs are always compliant with PCI DSS guidelines and standards, building an additional layer of trust with the PCI DSS and with customers that entrust their cardholder information with call centers.

Requirements for meeting the PCI Compliance Checklist

Achieving Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance can be an intimidating task for any business. Fortunately, there is a step-by-step PCI compliance checklist that can help ensure that all necessary steps are taken to ensure compliance. The PCI compliance  checklist covers the basic requirements of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and provides guidance on implementing security measures to protect cardholder data.

From developing and maintaining secure systems and applications to monitoring and testing networks for security breaches, the PCI compliance checklist will help organizations ensure they are taking the necessary steps to achieve PCI compliance.

Here are the 12 requirements for meeting the PCI compliance checklist:

PCI Compliance Checklist

Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data

The very first step to take in the PCI compliance checklist is to install, set up and maintain a firewall that will not only prevent unauthorized access to credit card information, but also will act as the immediate line of defense against hackers, malware and other viruses. Moreover, the firewall must also be configured correctly in order to allow known external systems to access cardholder data.

Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters

After you have configured and set up a firewall to protect cardholder data, it is time to set unique passwords for systems and the database. Avoid using system default passwords and default settings because they are relatively easier to guess, and may leave sensitive information at risk. Furthermore, this also becomes a necessary measure on systems that grant administrator privileges to all users by default.

Protect stored cardholder data

While a password is a great way to protect cardholder data and sensitive information, it might not be enough in itself to keep cardholder data completely safe. This means incorporating the use of two factor authentication codes, encryption tools and multi-device verification to protect cardholder data.

Having a robust line of defense against hackers and security threats is one of the key steps in the PCI compliance checklist. It is also extremely difficult to break through multiple encryption layers, ensuring that consumer data is 100% safe.

Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks

An important requirement of the PCI compliant Call center checklist is to manually encrypt data transmission of cardholder data through networks that are open and accessible by the public. This also includes Point Of Sale Transactions, and transactions that take place on the back end of a payment processor’s system.

Through data encryption across public networks, cardholder data cannot be intercepted by unauthorized users. External users who need to access cardholder data will be required to enter a password that is configured by the master system.

Use and regularly update anti-virus software

After encryption, it is also important to manually secure cardholder information and other sensitive data. This can be done by installing an antivirus program. Ensure that your call center has access to the latest antivirus solution that can regularly scan and remove any threats to data within your system database.

An antivirus program that can both perform quick scans on a frequent basis, and quarterly full system scans are preferred to ensure the highest level of security for cardholder information.

Develop and maintain secure systems and applications

Along with installing the latest antivirus software, it is also important for businesses and call centers to develop a secure system and application interface that includes secure connectivity from one device to another, secure developmental and testing environments for credit card security, and network protocols that serve as an additional layer to existential cardholder information security.

These systems must also be maintained on a bi-weekly basis to ensure that cardholder information and other related data is kept safe from unwanted threats.

 Restrict access to cardholder data to appropriate personnel only

Another important requirement of the PCI compliance checklist is to ensure that only authorized IT personnel and individuals pertaining a business have access to cardholder data only.

This can both be done manually within a database, or through automation tools that can place filters on cardholder data in order to prevent it from going into the wrong hands.

PCI Compliance Checklist

Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access

One of the most important requirements of the PCI compliance checklist is to assign a unique ID to each individual that has access to the same system or database with access to cardholder information.

Not only is this a great way of keeping track of all individuals that have access to your system, but also the creation of IDs that can later be stored in a system can prevent major data breaches.

Restrict physical access to cardholder data:

Another necessary requirement of the PCI compliance checklist is to restrict all physical access to cardholder data to unauthorized personnel, or access to any other data that has personal information stored of any customer. The best way to do so is to use an encryption technique that only allows access to data upon entering a password or completing an authentication process.

By preventing physical access to cardholder data, hackers and scammers cannot gain access to sensitive information, and can be easily detected by filter systems that are incorporated in secure systems and databases.

Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data

Another important requirement of the PCI compliance checklist is to track and monitor all access points and users that have full control over network resources and cardholder information.

By performing audits and quality checks over network resources, cardholder information will be kept safe from unauthorized access and other vulnerabilities.

Regularly test security systems and processes

It is also equally important to test security systems as a whole and system processes in order to ensure comprehensive data security of cardholder information. If these tests and audits are not performed frequently, then there is a probability that employees and personnel would not be up to speed about network changes, putting the entire system and database at risk.

This could also be problematic while accessing data later on, as certain encryption technologies can lock access to a database if a specified number of correct prompts are not provided.

Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel

It is important for businesses to create and maintain a security policy for all employees and personnel within their organization. This ensures that personnel within an organization or call center are well informed about security best practices and guidelines that need to be followed in order to protect cardholder information.

Additionally, when a security policy is incorporated in order to safeguard cardholder information, then agents are also well informed about the standard operating procedures within a PCI compliant center.

The Bottom Line

Meeting the PCI compliance checklist offers numerous benefits for organizations that store, process, or transmit payment cardholder data. Not only does it protect cardholder data from potential security threats, it also ensures that call centers are compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and all associated regulations and best practices.

Achieving PCI compliance can help organizations maintain customer trust, reduce their risk of data breaches, and improve their overall security posture. By following the comprehensive ecommerce PCI compliance checklist outlined in this blog, organizations can ensure they have taken all of the necessary steps to ensure they are compliant with the PCI DSS.

Touchstone Communications is PCI DSS certified!

Touchstone Communications is a PCI compliant call center, where every transaction is a secure transaction. Our wide range of omni channel BPO services include payment and transaction processing, customer services outsourcing,  omni channel inbound services, and outbound lead generation services.

Our PCI compliant call center is also ISO 9001 certified, where we insure industry best practices to prevent credit card fraud and theft.

We enhance customer experiences by providing secure payment solutions for our clients. We offer customized systems and services with strong security and scalability requirements that meet or exceed PCI standards and are PCI compliant.

Get in touch with us today and learn how our PCI compliant facility can transform your business in 2023.

PCI Compliance Checklist

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the PCI compliance checklist?

The PCI compliance checklist is a set of requirements that a merchant must meet in order to be compliant with PCI DSS standards and guidelines. The PCI compliance checklist consists of 12 requirements that require operating systems to be secure, encrypted and kept safe from unauthorized access.

A merchant can successfully become PCI compliant upon following the PCI compliance checklist.

What if my business is not PCI compliant?

If your business is not PCI compliant, then you may be subject to heavy fines and penalties by the PCI DSS. Your business may also be subject to legal action on performing credit card transactions as a non-compliant business by the PCI DSS.

Therefore, it is recommended to achieve PCI DSS compliance as soon as possible if your business performs any credit or debit card transactions.

How can I become PCI compliant?

In order to become PCI compliant, it is recommended to get in touch with a PCI certified assessor. A PCI assessor will review the set of requirements and guidelines your business must follow in order to become PCI compliant.

Once you have met all of the requirements of the PCI DSS, your business will be eligible to make and receive credit card transactions legally.

Do I need to install software to become PCI compliant?

No, you do not need to install any particular software in order to become PCI compliant. Under PCI compliance, your business will be required to meet a 12-step PCI compliance checklist to ensure the safety and security of cardholder information.

What are the advantages of PCI compliance?

There are many advantages of PCI compliance. Some of these include:

  1. Builds customer trust: When a business is PCI compliant, customers will feel more confident with their credit card information in the hands of a PCI compliant business.
  2. Safeguard customer credit card information: PCI compliance requires businesses to follow various security protocols to safeguard cardholder information of customers.
  3. Enhanced security of web transactions: Credit card transactions performed through a compliant channel are protected by an additional layer of PCI DSS security protocols.