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The True Cost of PCI-DSS Non-Compliance

The True Cost of PCI-DSS Non-Compliance

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The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) is a set of security standards that all merchants accepting payment cards must comply with to safeguard customer data. However, non-compliance with these regulations can have severe financial, legal, and reputational consequences for businesses. 

More PCI Information: What You Need To Know About Secure Coding Training for PCI DSS v4.0 Requirements 

 In this blog post, we'll explore the true cost of PCI-DSS non-compliance and why achieving and maintaining compliance is an investment in your business's security and success. 

Visit our Business Guide to PCI-DSS Compliance Training for more information


Direct Costs of PCI-DSS Non-Compliance 

PCI non-compliance can hit your wallet hard. Non-compliance fees can start small, at $10 to $100 per month, but quickly snowball into significant expenses. These fees are levied by acquiring banks and card brands, increasing over time the longer you remain non-compliant. 

More Resources: PCI-DSS Compliance: What Does It Mean for My Business? 

But that's not all. If a data breach happens because you weren't PCI compliant, the cost of fixing everything can range from a few thousand dollars to a whopping $500,000, depending on how severe the breach was and the number of customers affected. Ouch! 

Here's a breakdown of the potential financial penalties: 

  • Acquiring Bank and Card Brand Fines - These can reach up to $100,000 per month until you become compliant. 
  • Data Breach Forensic Investigation and Remediation - After a breach, a forensic investigation is mandatory to determine the cause and scope of the issue. These investigations can be costly, especially for more significant breaches. 
  • Payment Card Brand Fines - In addition to the acquiring bank fines, the major payment card brands (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) may also levy their own penalties for non-compliance if a data breach occurs. 


The Hidden Costs of PCI-DSS Non-Compliance 

Beyond the immediate financial penalties of non-compliance, there are significant hidden costs that can cripple your business in the long run. Here's a breakdown of some of the most damaging: 


Forensic Investigation and Legal Expenses 

A data breach triggered by non-compliance is a legal nightmare. Forensic investigations to determine the cause of the breach can be very expensive, as Secureframe points out. These costs can quickly escalate depending on the severity of the breach. 

More PCI Resources: Cost of Secure Coding Training [2024]: Is It Worth the Investment? 

Additionally, non-compliance can lead to lawsuits from affected customers, adding significant legal fees to the financial burden. A prime example is Target's 2013 data breach, which was tied to PCI non-compliance and ultimately cost them $292 million – a hefty price tag that could have been avoided with proper compliance measures. 


Loss of Customer Trust 

Data breaches are devastating to brand reputation. Studies show that a significant portion of consumers lose faith in companies that experience a breach – 66% of consumers state they wouldn't trust a company that had a data breach. This loss of trust can translate into a significant decline in sales and customer loyalty, taking a long time and considerable effort to rebuild. 


Long-Term Impact of PCI-DSS Non-Compliance 

In addition to the immediate financial penalties of a data breach, non-compliance with PCI-DSS can significantly negatively impact your business in the long term. Here are two key areas to consider: 

  • Increased Processing Fees - Card brands may increase transaction fees for merchants who are not PCI-compliant. These fees can erode your profit margins over time, hindering your business's ability to grow. 
  • Loss of Merchant Account - In severe cases of non-compliance, acquiring banks and payment processors may revoke your ability to process card payments altogether. This effectively shuts down your business operations and can be incredibly difficult to recover. 


The Value of PCI-DSS Compliance 

Don't gamble with your business's security and reputation. PCI-DSS compliance is an investment, not a cost. By achieving and maintaining compliance, you significantly reduce your financial risk exposure, safeguard sensitive customer data, and build trust that translates into loyal customers.  

Evaluate your PCI-DSS compliance plan and take steps to ensure your developers have the skills and knowledge they need to write secure code.