December 2008 Archives

PCI Compliance extortion racket

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So, two of my clients have received a letter from Elavon (formally) NOVA indicating that they need to pay a third party "Qualified Security Assurance Assessor" to validate their PCI Compliance. This is bullshit. The merchants in question do not store cardholder data. My clients have been told they have until Dec. 15th to get this assessment; or, pay $135.00 a year to Trustwave, until all of the issues are hammered out. The claim is simply not true. If you look at the PCI Compliance website it lays out the level of PCI Compliance to which one must conform. If you are selling stuff online and you are not storing cardholder data, you should be done. Instead, the credit card companies are asking you to shell out cash to have verification performed. I'm not against PCI Compliance. In fact, it is a legitimate concern; however, if you are not storing credit card numbers, and you aren't doing 2 million dollars worth of transactions, you are in compliance. This is an extortion racket created by the credit card companies to scare merchants into buying things they can't afford. Why this surprises me, I'm not sure: what's the point of having a credit card if you're only going to buy things you can pay for outright? My recommendation to my clients is to refuse to accept credit cards on their sites and instead sell through PayPal or Google Checkout. There is no excuse for punishing people who are abiding the principle and the letter of the PCI standards by squeezing them for money. I find it interesting that this letter arrived with a deadline two weeks before Christmas and when Congress is out of session. I see that Elavon donated to the McCain campaign; so, I can bet they are trying to strike while the iron is hot. If you're reading this, please use cash. Stop working for these bastards. They don't care about you except how they can get you to give them money for nothing. I am a capitalist and I don't mind trading my money for a service; but, this is gangster behavior and it must stop. Until it does, create a PayPal account, and fire these assholes.

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