Verified by Visa Scam: How to Spot the Fake.

Verified by Visa Scam: How to Spot the Fake.

Update: Learn about Visa’s (rumored) replacement for Verified by Visa,

Keep on the lookout for a scam regarding the Verified by Visa (VbV) program; a legitimate security layer set up to provide increased protection for your data for online purchases. Internet scam artists are sending out spam linking to fake versions of the program that do nothing to protect you.

The Verified by Visa program is part of the 3-D Secure protocol (developed by Visa), with similar programs adopted by Mastercard (SecureCode) and JCB (J/Secure). These programs provide an additional authentication step (i.e. a password request) for your online purchases through participating Internet retailers. This added step is set up to help ensure your identity at the time of purchase. Here’s the official word from Visa:

In addition to our other ways of preventing, detecting, and resolving fraud, we offer Verified by Visa, a free, simple-to-use service that confirms your identity with an extra password when you make an online transaction.

Phishers are casting their lines and looking for new victims. The bait they’re using is usually an email that looks like the real deal, but ultimately leads to a scam website that tries to get you to submit your credit card number and other information under the guise of the Verified by Visa program. Luckily we’ve got three suggestions for you to protect yourself from getting caught by this scam:

  1. Scrutinize your email:

    Most Verified by Visa phishing attempts start with an official-looking email that requests you to join. However, Visa isn’t sending out emails to customers in order to get them to sign up. The usual way you’d get the Verified by Visa sign up option is through a participating retailer as you begin the checkout process on their website. If you receive one of these emails, call your Visa provider and ask them to verify if the email is legit. Chances are it’s not.

  2. Watch where you’re surfing:

    If you do happen to click on the link from your email, be careful. Phishers and other scam artists are great at copying real websites and making their VbV scam version look legitimate. Check the URL, or web address, that you’re on to make sure you’re on the real site. See our blog post entitled “How to Spot a Fake Website” for more information.

  3. Go to the source:

    If you’re interested in signing up for the Verified by Visa program or learning more about it, visit the official Verified by Visa FAQ.

As always, be wary of emails in your inbox asking you to sign up for anything or giving you a link to click on to enter any of your information.

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About Jon

Jon has worked in the tech industry since the pre-Bubble dotcom days and still has a 1200 Baud modem somewhere in his garage. When he's not advocating the use of strong passwords and being smart about social media, he's working on finding new ways to convince his wife that bacon is a vegetable which should be eaten with every meal.


  1. Patricia Owers says

    I have received an email stating that my Verified by Visa has been suspended (I have received the same e-mail purportedly from PayPal). I am requested to access a linked site to renew my Verified by Visa. Is this genuine?

  2. Patricia – I would err on the side of caution and contact your credit card company via phone instead of clicking on that link. Email is relatively easy to spoof, and if it were me in the same situation, I’d disregard the email link and contact my Visa provider. Let me know what you find out if you contact them by phone.

  3. I received the following, but I have never signed up for Verified by Visa. The full e-mail header shows the return path as “” (URL edit by StopSign staff) and also contains this…”X-Originating-IP: [] (IP address edit by StopSign staff)“. There are no pictures or graphics in the e-mail and I cant find a way to call the actual company. Is the email fake and trying to get information from me or is it real and someone is trying to use my credit card number?


    TO: (Email edit by StopSign staff)
    Message flagged Sunday, October 2, 2011 10:27 AMMessage body
    Our valued customer,

    You have given an incorrect password for Verified by Visa three times and, therefore, must activate a new one. To do this, please follow the link below. Once your new password is activated, you can identify yourself and pay with your card in Verified by Visa-affiliated stores. (URL edit by StopSign staff)
    Case ID : VbV-134-S4109

  4. I have been using verified by visa for a while with no problems. Just gone to make a payment, verified by visa are asking for my card details (security number, expiry date etc)?

  5. Frank – For me, if it looks fake, and if feels fake, then it likely is fake. Especially since you never signed up for Verified by Visa. If it were me, I wouldn’t even worry about trying to contact the company.

    If you feel like you want to be doubly sure, then find the phone number of your Visa provider on your most recent bill statement and give them a call and explain to them what happened. They have have a protocol for how to deal with this email, but in my experience most companies just check it off as spam and move on.

  6. CJT – If you feel there is something wrong, my suggestion is to find the phone number of your Visa provider on your latest statement and give them a call. In most cases they can clear up any confusion relatively quick.

  7. If merchant (say a hotel booking site) takes payment using Verified By Visa, how can I be sure that he will actually book and pay the hotel (even though he sends me voucher and invoice by email??
    If he doesn’t will I be refunded by Card issuer?

  8. j tuohy – Keeping in mind that I am not a lawyer, nor am I a representative of either Visa or the issuing bank… I would say that you should have a reasonable expectation that the merchant has booked and paid for the hotel if the transaction is noted in your card account, especially if you have the voucher/invoice.

    If you are concerned there is fraud involved, I’d check to ensure that the hotel has the reservation, and that the reservation is paid for. If it’s not, then it may be time to contact the merchant and possibly your card issuer as well.

  9. Potential customers should think twice before using Verified by Visa. By doing so they are, in effect, relinquishing their rights to challenge, as for the case of fraud. It happened to me and I had to resort to legal means in order to ultimately have a sum of €966 refunded to me.

    What is alarming is that the bank (in my case AIB) absolves itself of all responsibility as the supposedly ultra-secure ‘verified’ – that you have signed up to – has been used.

    I only succeeded in winning my case as a kind girl in Direct Banking telephoned me (having checked the activity in my account) and admitted that the fraudster had been allowed access to my funds as he’d ‘forgotten’ his (…my) password. Apparently, they allow it once. Frightening.

  10. I just tried to make a purchase on a major site and it’s telling me that my Bank debit has Verified by Visa activated on it, I’ve never activated it and I’ve never had that message before. I just used this card on another site with nothing mentioned about Verified by Visa. What’s up? It won’t let me complete my purchase since I don’t have a password to give them. What a bother!

  11. I too recieved the e-mail stating that my password had been entered three times incorrectly on verified by visa, but figure well they have tried and obviously not succeeded so will ignore it! as i have made purchases since recieving the email it must be fake anyway.

  12. I received a similiar e-mail. Funny thing is my only card is a MC debit card, don’t carry anything from Visa. Anyhow, I hovered over the link and it was – note vlsa NOT visa! Just another security tip – inspect the link before you click!

  13. I received the following email today suposibly from Verified by Visa france: Your credit card is suspended, because we encountered a problem on your diagram. We have determined that a person must perhaps use your diagram without your permission. For your protection, we have suspended your bank account through your credit card. To raise this suspension, click here and follow the procedure indicated to update your account by credit card. I received a separate email from some “Ticket Service USA” stating that a transaction in the amount of $749.32 was done on my visa – BOTH ARE FRAUDULENT EMAIL MESSAGES! The link in the ticket service email downloads a viruis when clicked. BEWARE

  14. I just got a scam email from Verified by Visa. The reasons I know it’s a scam:

    1. They spelled Verified incorrectly.

    2. Email address is [Removed by StopSign Staff] (this does not seem like a legit address from a company like Visa.

    3. No toll free number to call

    4. I have never received an email from any business that begins with “Hello customer”.

    5. They spelled suspension incorrectly: Their version “suspention” Also, they spelled indefinite as “indfiniment”

    6. No signature at the end of the email… just “thank you, ”

    If you are going to try and scam at least use spell check.

  15. Bob Greaves says

    Sadly I am one of those rare persons whose personal information for some unknown reason creates hash code errors with the VbV algorithm. I am unable to do any business with any site that requires verify by visa. I can go directly to the verify by visa website and everything verifies perfectly, but when I get transferred to the website by a merchant while attempting to make a transaction, it fails every single time. Neither of the two banks I do business with have been able to solve the problem. I have not been able to make a Verify by Visa purchase on ANY of my various Visa cards since 1991.

  16. Crimson Lake says

    I signed up for VbV about 3 years ago. For the first 18 months or so, whenever I shopped online (which I do frequently, almost always from wellknown sites) I was asked for some random characters from my VbV passcode, and I was very happy to have this extra layer of security. But then they stopped doing this. Whenever I check out now, the payment system still apparently goes to the VbV website and a message comes up saying “Verifying your card …..”, and then after a few seconds it just accepts it and I’m never asked for any password characters. So how is this making my card more secure?


  1. […] Verified by Visa Scam.  How to Spot the Fake Share this:FacebookTwitterEmailDiggStumbleUponRedditPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Tagged with: 3-D Secure, American Express, Credit card, France, Gmail, Mastercard, United States, Visa […]

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  3. […] wallet” (Visa press release) and rumored to be a replacement for the oft-misunderstood Verified by Visa (VbV) program. (For more about problems people have experienced with VbV, check out our blog post […]