If you are a credit card holder and not familiar with pci compliance companies, you should thank your lucky stars that they exist.
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a proprietary information security standard for organizations that handle cardholder information for the major debit, credit, prepaid, ATM, and POS cards. The standard was created to increase the controls around cardholder data, and is an insurance toward credit card fraud.
If you are working with an online retailer who is accepting credit card payments, you may want to double check that they are listed in the pci compliance companies data base, before processing credit cards through their system.
Among the standards listed by the PCI DSS are requirements involving firewall installation, protection of stored card holder data, and development of a security policy, to name a few. Credit card processing companies accepting credit card payments found to not be in compliance with the standards are subject to thousands of dollars in fines per DAY that they are not in compliance.
In order to prove compliance, companies are required to attest that they are complying with the Data Security Standard annually, if it handles credit card data electronically. This involves delivering a package including a self assessment questionnaire, regular network or website scanning by an approved scanning vendor, and a report of compliance.
If you are unsure as to whether or not an online credit card processing company or online merchant service is in compliance, the PCI DSS contains up to date records of all compliant merchants accepting credit card payments.
When paying with you card, be sure to make sure that any business accepting credit card payments via the web is a legitimate site, and in compliance. It could be the difference between buying yourself something fabulous, and having your identity stolen.