New tool launched in an effort to stave off data breaches

A new tool can help to identify merchants and hotels who have exposed credit and debit cards to hackers

In the digital age where data breaches are becoming more common, a new tool called PrivacyAtlas.com has been created which can help to identify, and even avoid, major merchants and hotels who have exposed credit and debit cards and other personal information to hackers.

In recent months, massive privacy breaches are major retailers like Target and Neiman Marcus incited new fears when it comes to shopping and purchasing.

Privacy Atlas, launched on April 8, 2014, gives consumers the access to search 39,000 hotel and motel locations along with 28,000 big chains stores. Besides helping business and travelers make informed choices, the consumer tool also makes it easy for individuals to directly book their stay at a compliant property by offering a link to the properties booking engine directly from the PrivacyAtlas results page.

Retailers, merchants, and other venues that process credit card payments are required to comply with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards.

“Consumers want to know how safe their credit card data is when it’s shared with hotels, retail stores, restaurants, or online. They may be surprised to know that guidelines for data security do exist. These are the PCI Data Security Standards designed to help merchants protect consumer data,” said David Durko, President & CEO of Security Validation, the company behind the PrivacyAtlas.

Participation by companies is voluntary, and locations that choose not to disclose their compliance status to PrivacyAtlas.com get a black mark, while a yellow icon indicates that verification is in process.

How does it work? A consumer enters the name of the hotel or merchant into the PrivacyAtlas.com search engine, along with the address of any specific location, to learn whether compliance was verified (as indicated by a green checkmark) or not (indicated by a red “X”). Participation by companies is voluntary, and locations that choose not to disclose their compliance status to PrivacyAtlas.com get a black mark, while a yellow icon indicates that verification is in process.

Durko, former director of security-compliance management for a global hotel chain with 15 years in the data-security industry, said “no one is policing compliance.” 

“We don’t have anything to do with enforcement," Bob Russo, general manager for the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council told the Fox Business Channel.  “We’re just the standards guys. The credit-card companies enforce it. If there’s a breach, there could be an enforcement issue that comes from the credit card brand to the acquiring bank, and the acquiring bank rolls it down to the merchant.”

 The online tool is free, and the company is expanding to add the PCI compliance status of hotels and merchants worldwide.

Security Validation LLC expects to amass ratings of most independently owned and operated corporate-owned and managed hotels later this year.


Further reading:

Survey: Most organizations accepting credit cards don't maintain PCI security standards

Contributing Author

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Alexis Harrison

Alexis Harrison is a Connecticut-based writer and public relations professional whose career spans both print journalism and broadcast news. Alexis started her professional life as...

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