The issue of PCI compliance is an important one to think about if you would like to accept credit cards on your website.  Some companies that offer ecommerce software address this question up front, while others don’t even say if they are PCI compliant.  PCI stands for “payment card industry,” and if you are PCI compliant, it means that your site meets the standard level of security that is mandated by many credit card companies.  This helps protect your customers against credit card fraud.

While technically there is no federal law stating that your site must be PCI compliant, although some states and many credit card companies do require it.  The PCI standards were developed by the PCI Security Standard Council, but they leave it up to each payment brand to police these standards.  Different brands usually have their own set of compliance requirements, so be sure to do your research before launching any sales on your website.

Choosing a PCI Compliant Web Hosting Service

Before you make any major choices about your website, it’s best to look into your options to ensure that you are PCI compliant.  For example, is your web hosting company PCI compliant?  Not all of them are.  Reputable companies are more likely to be PCI compliant than unknown ones, and in most cases, the cheapest ones aren’t PCI compliant either.  Before opting for a specific hosting company, ask them straight out if they are PCI compliant.

Some great PCI complaint web hosts include:

SSL Certificates

An SSL certificate is also a good option.  Required really.  This protocol is a small data file that provides a layer of security to protect the people who buy things on your website using their credit card.  An SSL certificate will verify your domain control and secure your website.  It generally costs $70 or so a year and provides a binding for your domain name, server name, location, and company name.  If there’s a padlock displayed on the web address bar, then you know that the transaction is secure.

Merchant Accounts

If you’re selling items on your website, you should also have a merchant account, which is essentially a bank account that allows you to take debit or credit card payments through your site.  Many web hosting services offer internet merchant accounts if you’re planning on selling items on your website.  Since you need to pay the extra to have a dedicated IP address for your retail site, it helps to look at packages that include an internet merchant account.

Staying Updated

All your WordPress plugins will be updated frequently, so make sure that you are keeping your site up to date.  This will help to reduce security problems.