How to Detect Fake Credit Cards

Most businesses accept credit cards as a common form of payment for goods or services without thinking twice about potential fraud. Unfortunately, given the faltering economy and the rise of technology, counterfeit, altered and forged cards are up a reported 12 percent over last year, according to the Pacific Coast Bankers’ Bank (PCBB).

How can you prevent your business from accepting fraudulent credit cards? Here are some quick tips to determine whether a card is legit, courtesy of the PCBB:

 1. Symmetry – Look at the numbers to ensure they are evenly spaced and aligned. A counterfeiter typically uses an aftermarket tipper/embossing machine that handles one number at a time. As such, numbers are often skewed.

2. Correlation – Check to see if the account number matches the card name. American Express® will start with a 3, Visa® with a 4, MasterCard® with a 5 and Discover® with a 6. You would be surprised how many crooks fail to do their basic homework.

3. Magnetic Strip – Some crooks are lazy or cheap and fail to coordinate the magnetic strip data with the data on the front of the card. To get around this, oftentimes bad guys will purposely damage the strip by scratching or demagnetizing it thereby forcing the merchant to manually enter the altered numbers on the front.

4. Receipt Match – If you don’t have access to a magnetic strip decoding device to check the strip, one easy way to verify the strip and number is to run a transaction and see if the last four numbers printed on the receipt match.

5. Hologram – Check the hologram sticker on the front of Visa® and MasterCard® and the top back strip on an American Express® card for the foil hologram. Forged cards often have a dull, 2-D look.

6. Signature Strip – The signature strip requires a different material when creating a card and is also often overlooked when forging. The strip should be there and be white.

7. UV Logos – Purchase a small ultraviolet or black light to check the UV logo on most cards. “AM EX” will appear on front of an American Express® card, “MC” on a MasterCard®, a flying “V” in the lower left front and a dove logo in the middle of a Visa® card, and “Discover” will be written across a Discover® card.

8. Microprint – Most cards have a microprint verification number that can be seen with a magnifying glass. This gets about 80 percent of all crooks and the microprint can usually be found under the account number or on back. While it varies with different cards, usually the microprint duplicates the first or last four numbers of the account number.

9. Behavior – Nothing verifies fraud like nervous behavior of the cardholder. The most common tactic is for the crook to try to confuse or distract the clerk in order to take the attention off the fraudulent card.

If any of the above doesn’t look right, get law enforcement involved as chances are high you are dealing with identity theft.
VISA® and the name Visa are federally registered trademarks of Visa. MasterCard® and the name MasterCard are registered trademarks of MasterCard Worldwide or its subsidiaries in the United States. American Express® and the name American Express are trademarks of American Express Company, its subsidiaries and/or affiliates. Discover® is a registered trademark of Discover Financial Services.

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