Identifying Visa Cards

Basic features
All Visa cards share similar card elements and security features that are essential. However, the unembossed Visa card has some elements that are different, compared with a normal Visa card. 

The card number and information on the front of the unembossed card is printed instead of embossed, resulting in a smooth card surface instead of the raised surface found on other Visa cards. 

Visa Electron cards also have slightly different features.  They can only be accepted at an electronic terminal and always require authorization.  These differences are highlighted below.

  • Visa brand mark – the Visa brand mark is always on the front of the card and can be placed in a number of positions.
  • Dove hologram –Cards using the Visa brand mark can either carry a standard hologram at the front or a mini hologram on the back of the card. The Visa Infinite card, issued by some card issuers to their best customers, has a different hologram design. 
  • Ultraviolet element - this is a security-related mark required on all cards carrying the Visa brand mark.  This mark is only visible under ultraviolet light.
  • 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 – This must be even, clear and straight, with all numbers the same size and shape. May be embossed or unembossed.  Some unembossed Visa cards have a partial account number (only eight digits) printed.
  • Cardholder name – The 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 that the dates are valid.  If you are presented with a card with invalid dates, you must obtain authorization.
  • Signature panel – The signature panel is always on the back of a card with the Visa brand mark.  The length of the signature panel is dependent on CVV2 placement and whether a chip is present on the card.
  • CVV2 – there should be a unique three-digit code printed in the standard white area to the right of the signature panel, or on the signature panel
  • Chip – many Visa cards now have a chip.  If you have a magnetic-stripe terminal, accept chip cards as you would accept magnetic-stripe-based cards.  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

  • The Visa brand mark with the Electron identifier is always on the front of the card and can be placed in a number of positions. On the rare occasion that the Visa brand mark with the Electron identifier appears on the back of a card, the front of the card will feature a Visa brand mark
  • Ultraviolet element – this is a security related mark required on all cards carrying the Visa brand mark with the Electron identifier. It is only visible under ultraviolet light.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 that the dates are valid.  If you are presented with a card with invalid dates, you must obtain authorization.
  • Electronic use only – printed on the front or the back of the card to remind you that Visa Electron cards cannot be used with manual systems. This may appear in other languages.
  • Signature panel - the signature panel is always on the back of a card with the Visa brand mark.  The length of the signature panel is dependent on CVV2 placement and whether a chip is present on the card.
  • CVV2 – there should be a unique three-digit code printed in the standard white area to the right of the signature panel, or on the signature panel
  • Chip – many Visa cards now have a chip.  If you have a magnetic-stripe terminal, accept chip cards as you would accept magnetic-stripe-based cards.  If you have a chip-capable terminal, the card should be inserted into the chip reader for the duration of the transaction.
  • Cardholder name and Dove hologram – these are optional features and might not be present on some Visa

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.