Card Payments International

Spotting a Fake Credit Card

At Card Payments International we provide ACH processing and credit card processing on mobile devices and terminals. As a payment processing company in Utah, we also operate throughout the United States. Protecting businesses is our job and one of the most important questions we get asked by our merchant clients is how to protect themselves from fraud. That’s why we have come up with a few helpful tips on how to spot a fraudulent credit card.


It can be easy to spot a fake card if you know what you are looking for. The following is a list of tips:

  1. Examine the card. Does the card look and feel genuine? If here are physical modifications like crooked, unevenly spaced or re-embossed, then it’s probably fake. The four-digit BIN (bank identification number) should be printed below and match the first four of the embossed numbers. Check that the magnetic strip hasn’t been damaged forcing you to put in the number manually. Make sure that the signature panel is not just plain white (for instance, the MasterCard® panel has the brand name printed on it, and the Visa® panel has light blue lines) or damaged. The numbers on the signature panel slant left and match the last four on the front of the card. The foil hologram for Visa and MasterCard cards is on the front, and for an American Express card on the top back strip. Finally, the finish on the card should be high gloss, not dull or bumpy.
  2. Check account numbers. Each card issuer has certain number patterns to their cards. One way to spot a fake card is if the number pattern for that brand is inconsistent. Visa cards start with a “4” and contain 13 or 16 numbers. MasterCard card numbers begin with a “5” and are 16 digits long. American Express cards begin with “34” or “37” and are 15 digits long.
  3. Watch the customer’s behavior. Are they acting suspicious? Did they come in quickly and pick out a large purchase just before closing? Do they have the card or are they reciting or reading from a note the numbers (forcing you input the card numbers manually)?


If you suspect fraud, try to alert store security without drawing attention for the safety of you, your employees, and other customers. After alerting security, call the Card Authorizations number for the card brand being presented. As the authorizer for a “Code 10 authorization request” which alerts the card issuer to suspicious activity without letting on to the customer. The authorizer will then ask “yes” or “no” questions about the description of the transaction before providing necessary instructions or notify the police if necessary. Stay calm and keep the questionable card with you throughout the call and do not confront or attempt to detain the customer.


For more information on credit card security, click here or call Card Payments International today at (801) 456-8585 to speak with a Utah credit card processing expert.