Identifying Visa Cards
There are many different kinds of Visa cards. All share the same essential card elements and security features. The unembossed Visa card is the new Visa product which has the card number and information printed on the front of the card, making the surface of the card smooth instead of being raised. The unembossed Visa card does not share some of the card elements as the normal Visa card, and these have been included below. Visa Electron cards also have slightly different features, can only be accepted at an electronic terminal and always require authorization. See the following section for more details.
- Visa flag symbol – always on the front, right hand side, but can be above or below the hologram.
- Microprinting – should be visible around the Visa flag symbol.
- Dove hologram – always on the front right hand side, and the dove appears to fly when the card is tilted back and forth. The Visa Infinite card, issued by some banks to their very best customers, has a different hologram design.
- Four-digit number – printed above or below the account number. This should always begin with a ‘4’, and should match the first four digits of the account number. If it does not, or if it is missing, the card may be counterfeit.
- Account number – must be even, clear and straight, with all numbers the same size and shape. May be embossed or unembossed.
- Embossed letter V – will be present on embossed Visa cards. On some cards, it may be shown as CV, BV, or PV. For unembossed Visa cards, this feature will not be present.
- Cardholder name – letters must be even and straight. Whenever you are processing a transaction, this should be compared with the cardholder’s signature. For unembossed Visa cards and for some prepaid Visa cards, a cardholder name may not be present.
- Dates – whenever you are processing a transaction, you should check the dates are valid. If you are presented with a card where the dates are not valid, you must obtain authorization.
- Signature Panel – look for the signature on the signature panel. You should see the repeated word “Visa” printed diagonally in blue and gold.
- CVV2 – there should be a unique three-digit code printed after the account number on the signature panel.
- Chip – many Visa cards now have a chip. If you still have a magnetic stripe terminal, these can be accepted in the normal way. If you have a chip-capable terminal, the card should be inserted into the chip reader for the duration of the transaction.
How to identify a Visa Electron card
- Visa Electron symbol – always on the front, right hand side at either the top or bottom of the card. These cards may have a Dove hologram. Occasionally they may also have the Visa flag symbol and well as Visa Electron symbol.
- Last four digits – a full account number will not always be printed on the card. Check that the last four digits on the card correspond to the last four digits shown on your terminal.
- Electronic use only – printed on the front of the card to remind you that Visa Electron cards cannot be used with manual systems. This may appear in other languages.
- Signature panel – may appear on the front or back of the card. You should see the repeated word “Electron” printed diagonally in blue, red and yellow.
Basic security features
All Visa cards include features that prove they are genuine and valid for use. This helps protect you against losing money to counterfeit cards and fraud.
You should train your employees to recognize Visa security features and to know what to do if they are offered a card that does not contain them. Your employees should also know what to do if they have any reason to be suspicious.
If your employees know that a card is invalid, they should not accept it. If they suspect that a card may be altered or counterfeit, that it is being improperly used or is not signed, they should telephone the voice authorization center or bank and request a Code 103 authorization or contact their bank.
A word about suspicious behavior
If you or your employees have any reason to suspect that a customer is acting suspiciously, you must telephone your authorization center and ask for a Code 10 authorization or contact your bank. The customer may have a good reason for acting in a particular way, so your employees should be polite and use common sense.
Be alert for any customer who:
- Makes indiscriminate purchases without regard to size, style, color or price.
- Makes purchases, leaves the establishment and returns to make additional purchases.
- Hurries you to complete the sale at closing time.