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How to Protect Customer Data When Using Credit-Card Plug-ins for Smartphones More companies are accepting mobile payments. But failing to protect credit-card data could risk hefty penalties and fines.

By Mikal E. Belicove

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: Are those credit card plug-ins for smartphones really PCI compliant?

A: First, a primer on Payment Card Industry (PCI) noncompliance. If you fail to protect customers' credit card data, your business could face hefty--even crippling--penalties and fines from payment processors, and could lose the ability to accept cards altogether. (Then there's the prospect of facing angry customers demanding to know how fraudulent charges ended up on their credit card statements.)

If you think your small operation is too insignificant to bother, think again. According to the PCI Security Standards Council, 80 percent of all credit card security breaches in the U.S. since 2005 have been attributed to small businesses. (For more info, go to PCISecurityStandards.org.)