National Check Fraud Center

Credit Card Fraud
Prevention Techniques and Information

credit cards

A credit card may be bad if:

  • The individual offers the credit card but no other identification.

  • The name on the credit card is different from the name on other identification.

  • The card is unsigned.

  • The signature of the individual appears different than the signature on the card.

  • The expiration date has passed.

10 Ways to Protect Your Credit Cards:

You may think these ten rules are unnecessary. But if you ignore them, you make it easy for the wrong people to use your cards

  1. Never leave your cards unattended at work. There are more credit card thefts in the workplace than in any other single location.

  2. If your credit card is programmed to access an Automated Banking Machine (ABM), protect your Personal Identification Number (PIN) or security code. Don't write it down, memorize it.

  3. Don't leave your credit cars in your vehicle. A very high proportion of credit cards are stolen from motor vehicles.

  4. Always check your card when returned to you after a purchase. Make sure it is your card.

  5. When traveling, carry your cards with you or make sure they are in a secure location.

  6. Report lost or stolen cards immediately. Most fraudulent use of cards takes place within days of their being lost or stolen.

  7. Sign the back of a new card as soon you get it. Destroy unwanted cards so no one else can use them.

  8. Make a list of all your cards and their numbers. This key information is helpful when reporting lost or stolen cards.

  9. Always check your monthly statement. Make sure the charges are yours. Report them to your card company if the entry is not yours.

  10. Never give your card number over the phone unless you are dealing with a reputable company. The only time you should give it is when you have called to place an order.

Fraud Identification for Visa and Mastercard Cards

COMBAT CARD FRAUD Visa ® and MasterCard ® cards are designed with special security features to deter counterfeiting and fraud. A fraudulent transaction could involve an invalid account number or a valid number with unauthorized use.

One of the main causes of fraud losses is unauthorized use of a lost or stolen card. Fraudulent activity normally occurs within hours of the loss or theft -- before most victims have called to report the loss.

This is why it is so important to compare the signature on the card and the sales draft. If they don't match, you may be able to stop a fraudulent transaction even if the authorization center has not yet been told to pick up the card. Keep in mind that the thief may have altered the signature panel or re-embossed the card to change the account number.

Watch for suspicious behavior! While any of the following can occur in a perfectly legitimate transaction, these characteristics are frequently present during fraudulent transactions. Be alert for the customer who:

  1. Takes the card from a pocket instead of a wallet.

  2. Purchases an unusual amount of expensive items.

  3. Makes random purchases, selecting items with little regard to size, quality, or value.

  4. Makes several small purchases to stay under the floor limit, or asks what the floor limit is.

  5. Signs the sales draft slowly or awkwardly.

  6. Charges expensive items on a newly valid credit card.

  7. Cannot provide a photo identification when asked.

  8. Hurries you at quitting time.

  9. Purchases a large item, such as a television console, and insists on taking it at the time, even when delivery is included in the price.

Call for a Code 10 authorization:
Call your authorization center immediately and ask for a "Code 10" if:

  1. You believe you have a counterfeit or altered card.

  2. The transaction is suspicious.

  3. The account number is listed on the warning bulletin.

  4. The signatures don't match.

  5. You become suspicious for any other reason.

You will be asked a series of "yes" or "no" questions. Hold the card while the operator gives you instructions. You should always conform to your store policy.

Always check the security features:

Check the card's embossing:

  • The first four digits of the Visa account number (the bank identification number [BIN] must be pre-printed above the embossed number. If these numbers do not match exactly, the card has been altered or is counterfeit.

  • Visa's embossed account numbers begin with a 4 and contain either 13 or 16 digits.

  • A unique embossed "V" appears in "CV," "BV," or "PV" on Visa Classic, Business, or Gold cards.

    • The embossed characters should be in alignment and of the same size, height and style.

    • If you see "ghost images" of other numbers behind the embossing on either the front or back of the card, it has been re-embossed.

    • If the card has been re-embossed, the hologram my be damaged.

    • Check the valid dates for evidence of tampering. Do not accept an expired card.

  • MasterCard's embossed account numbers begin with a 5 and contain 16 digits.

  • If the unique security character "MC" appears next to the expiration date of a Mastercard card, make sure the card account number is indent-printed in reverse italics on the signature panel (this feature will not appear on all cards until 1997).

Check the signature panel:

  • A repetitive, color design of either the "Visa" or "MasterCard" name should appear on all signature panels.

  • An altered signature panel may be discolored, glued, painted, erased, or covered with white tape.

  • Compare the signature on the card with the signature on the sales draft. If they are different, request photo identification, such as a driver's license. If you are still not satisfied that the customer is the legitimate cardholder, call for a Code 10.

  • he signature panel on MasterCard cards may include an indent-printed account number followed by a three-digit validation code.

Check for hologram tampering:

  • The gold or silver holograms should show clear, three-dimensional images that appear to move when the card is tilted. Imitations can often be easily damaged by scratching.

Article credit given to Canadian Bankers Association

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