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Level 1 is the strictest in terms of DSS requirements, where Level 4 is the least strict: Almost all small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) classify as the lower Level 3 or Level 4 merchant, however, this does not preclude the necessity to maintain compliance with the same diligence as larger organizations.
In fact, it’s a costly misconception encountered amongst SMBs who believe they do not need to worry about compliance at all because they don’t do a significant enough volume of online or in-store sales.
How can we be sure that these online service providers, who so readily accept and retain our credit card information, are taking the appropriate measures to secure it?
in store retail point-of-sale terminals and online payment gateways) and summed up to determine an appropriate PCI compliance level with DSS standards.
This means a large international retail chain handling six million transactions per year will still be considered a Level 1 merchant (the strictest level) and will be held to the highest of PCI compliance standards, even if their related ecommerce store processes less than 500 orders per month.
Merchants that do not comply with PCI DSS and are involved in a credit card breach may be subject to fines, card replacement costs or incur costly forensic audits.
They could also find themselves in the position where they can’t process credit cards, which can be a death knell.