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Visa Security Features to Protect Merchants

Lori Stafford Thomas

Payment card fraud is a big business for thieves, and results in large losses for merchants. Business Insider reports that costs associated with payment card fraud in the U.S. rocketed to $7.1 billion in 2013 (1). Today, merchants and credit card companies are working together to help stop fraud in its tracks. In this article, we’ll take a look at some fraud warning signs merchants should be aware of, as well as the security features of Visa cards.

Signs that a customer may be trying to commit fraud
According to Visa, employees should watch for these suspicious behaviors.

  1. Be aware of people who buy an unusually large quantity of a specific item with little consideration about size, format, cost or color.
  2. People who make expensive purchases usually ask questions that will help them decide if the item is right for them. If they don’t ask questions, it may be a sign of fraud.
  3. Watch how people act during the sale. If someone tries to rush through the transaction or distract the clerk, they may be using a fraudulent card.
  4. Making expensive purchases right when the store opens, or just before closing, is another telltale warning sign.
  5. Fraudsters obviously don’t want to be tracked, so if the person adamantly refuses free delivery of a large item, this should raise a red flag as well.

Security precautions on embossed Visa cards (2)

Signature panel – The signature panel will always be on the back of the card, with “Authorized Signature” and “Not Valid Unless Signed” printed above the panel. If someone tries to remove or modify the panel, the word “VOID” will appear.

Account – All Visa accounts begin with the number 4. All numbers in the account should be straight and sized the same.

Hologram – Visa cards have a dove design hologram displayed on the back side of the card on either side of the signature panel, or above the Visa logo on the front of the card.

EMV chip – EMV equipped Visa cards have a metallic chip embedded on the card front. EMV technology has dramatically reduced card fraud resulting from counterfeit, lost and stolen cards in other countries where it is employed.(3)  Beginning October 1, 2015, merchants who do not use a chip card reader to process card-present transactions when a chip card is presented, can be held liable for any fraud that occurs as a result.

BIN number – The bank identification number (BIN) is comprised of digits that display right below the matching first four account numbers.

Card Verification – Three numbers make up the CVV, or card verification value. These are printed in a white box that sits to the right of the signature panel on the back side of the card. Segments of the account number may be seen in on the signature panel as well.

Differences with unembossed Visa cards
An unembossed card has a smooth surface with none of the raised letters or numbers that characterize an embossed card. The account number, cardholder’s name, and date of expiration are printed by laser or indentation on the front of the card, and the account number will display outside the dove hologram if the emblem is on the front of the card.

The way to stop fraudulent transactions at the register is by staying vigilant. Sales employees should always be on the lookout for strange or suspicious behavior among customers, particularly signs they may not be shopping with their own money. Recognizing the distinct features of legitimate credit cards is also important, as even the most sophisticated perpetrators of fraud can make mistakes. Together, merchants and payment card companies can help reduce the risk of fraud and avert costly losses.

  1. http://www.businessinsider.com/the-us-accounts-for-over-half-of-global-payment-card-fraud-sai-2014-3
  2. http://usa.visa.com/download/merchants/card-security-features-mini-vcp-111512.pdf
  3. New Card and Banking Fraud Figures, UK Cards Association, March 2010.

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