Payment Card Policy

1. Card Acceptance and Handling

The opening of a new merchant account for the purpose of accepting and processing payment cards is done on a case by case basis. Any fees associated with the acceptance of the payment card in that department could be charged to the individual merchant.

1.1. Interested departments or merchants should contact Liana Fox and/or the Cashiering Office to begin the process of accepting payment cards. Steps include:

  • 1.1.1. Completion of an “Application to become a Merchant Department”
  • 1.1.2. Completion of training
  • 1.1.3. Review and acknowledgement of the “Western Michigan University Payment Card Policies and Procedures”, including proof of ongoing compliance with all requirements of the policy

1.2. Any department accepting payment cards on behalf of the institution or related foundation must designate an individual within the department who will have primary authority and responsibility within that department for payment card transactions. The department should also specify a back-up, or person of secondary responsibility, should matters arise when the primary is unavailable.

1.3. Specific details regarding processing and reconciliation will depend on the method of payment card acceptance and type of merchant account. Detailed instructions will be provided when the merchant account is established and are also available by contacting the Cashiering Office.

1.4. All service providers and third party vendors providing payment card services must be PCI DSS compliant. Departments who contract with third-party service providers must maintain a list that documents all service providers and:

  • 1.4.1.Ensure contracts include language stating that the service provider or third party vendor is PCI complaint and will protect all cardholder data.
  • 1.4.2. Annually audit the PCI compliance status of all service providers and third- party vendors. A lapse in PCI compliance could result in the termination of the  relationship.

2.   Payment Card Data Security

All departments authorized to accept payment card transactions must have their card handling procedures documented and made available for periodic review. Departments must have in place the following components in their procedures and ensure that these components are maintained on an ongoing basis.


2.1. Access to cardholder data (CHD) is restricted to only those users who need the  data to perform their jobs. Each merchant department must maintain a current list of employees with access to CHD and review the list annually to ensure that the list reflects the most current access needed and granted.

2.2. Equipment used to collect cardholder data is secured against unauthorized use or tampering in accordance with the PCI DSS.  This includes the following:

  • 2.2.1. Maintaining an inventory/list of devices and their location;     
  • 2.2.2. Periodically inspecting the devices to check for tampering or substitution;
  • 2.2.3. Training for all personnel to be aware of suspicious behavior and reporting procedures in the event of suspected tampering or substitution.

2.3. Email must never be used to transmit payment card or personal payment information, nor should it be accepted as a method to supply such information. In the event that it does occur, disposal as outlined below is critical. If payment card data is received in an email then:

  • 2.3.1.The email should be replied to immediately with the payment card number deleted stating that “Western Michigan University does not accept payment card data via email as it is not a secure method of transmitting cardholder data".
  • 2.3.2.Provide a list of the alternate, compliant option(s) for payment.
  • 2.3.3.Delete the email from your inbox and also delete it from your email Trash.

2.4. Fax machines used to transmit payment card information to a merchant department must be standalone machines with appropriate physical security; receipt or transmission of payment card data using a multi-function fax machine is not permitted.


2.5. Cardholder data, whether collected on paper or electronically, is protected against unauthorized  access.

2.6. Physical security controls are in place to prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access to the buildings, rooms, or cabinets that store the equipment, documents, or electronic files containing cardholder data.

2.7. No database, electronic file, or other electronic repository of information will store the full contents of any track from the magnetic stripe, or the card validation code.

2.8. Portable electronic media devices should not be used to store cardholder data. These devices include, but are not limited to, the following: laptops, compact disks, floppy disks, USB flash drives, personal digital assistants, and portable external hard drives.

2.9. Cardholder data should not be retained any longer than that defined by a legitimate business need. CHD must be destroyed immediately following the required retention period using a PCI DSS-approved method of destruction. A regular schedule of deleting or destroying data should be established in the merchant department to ensure that no cardholder data is kept beyond the required retention period. 

3. Risk Assessment

Implement a formal risk assessment process in which current threats and vulnerabilities to the institution’s network and processing environment, including staff, are analyzed. Risk assessments must be conducted annually. Information Technology should conduct the risk assessment of the infrastructure and threats; departments that accept payment cards should also conduct an assessment of their physical environments and assess risks to the payment environment.  Address all threats with mitigation tasks, timelines and/or acceptance statements. Prepare and maintain documented output from the risk assessment exercise(s).

4.   Incident Response

In the event of a breach or suspected breach of security, the department or unit must immediately execute the Western Michigan University Information Security Incident Response Plan The plan must include notifications, staff requirements, and handling procedures.  If the suspected activity involves computers (hacking, unauthorized access, etc.), immediately notify OIT Help Desk.  The Incident Response Plan should be reviewed and tested at least annually.

 5.   Policy and Training

Ensure policy and procedure documentation governing cardholder data exists and that it covers the entirety of the PCI DSS.  Document users’ acknowledgement of understanding and compliance with all policies and procedures annually.  Ensure training on the PCI DSS and overall information security is provided to all staff members with access to cardholder data and/or the processing environment upon hire, and at least annually thereafter.

6.   Sanctions

Failure to meet the requirements outlined in this policy may result in suspension of the physical and, if appropriate, electronic payment capability for the affected merchant(s). In the event of a breach or a PCI violation the payment card brands may assess penalties to the  Institution’s bank which will likely then be passed on to the Institution. Any fines and assessments imposed will be the responsibility of the impacted merchant. A one-time penalty of up to $500,000 per card brand per breach can be assessed as well as on-going monthly penalties.

Persons in violation of this policy are subject to sanctions, including loss of computer or network access privileges, disciplinary action, suspension and termination of employment and my face legal action. Some violations may constitute criminal offenses under local, state, or federal laws. Western Michigan University will carry out its responsibility to report such violations to the appropriate  authorities.