Identifying Fake Visa Card Numbers

Visa Numbers

While credit card fraud is nothing new, the issue of fake credit card numbers has taken an interesting turn in the age of online shopping. According to Creditcards.com, as of late 2011 there were 261 million Visa card accounts in the United States alone. Interest in fake card numbers has grown with the popularity of e-commerce businesses and the ability to make purchases and sales online.

Legitimate Reasons for Fake Visa Card Numbers

Not everyone seeking fake Visa card numbers is trying to engage in criminal activity; some are simply trying to avoid unauthorized purchases on their credit cards. Registering for a free trial of an online service is one example of a reason why someone could search for a fake Visa card number - such as if the individual solely wants to use the service for the length of the free trial and is apprehensive about giving his or her valid Visa number. In addition, marketing companies use fake visa numbers to print on promotional materials, such as brochures.

Alternate Solutions to Using a Fake Number

  • Contact Visa and ask for a temporary or one-use Visa card number to complete your sign-up, registration, or free trial. The rapid growth of online shopping requiring payment by credit card has led many credit card companies to provide what are known as temporary, disposable, virtual or single-use Visa card numbers for customers. For example, Citibank Visa customers set up a virtual Visa account number through their online banking screen.
  • Sign up for Verified By Visa. This program requires an additional password to make online purchases with your Visa card, thereby reducing the risk of future fraud when using your Visa for online purchases.

Keep in mind that ticket dispensers such as movie, theatre and some airline check-in kiosks may require presentation of the actual credit card upon pickup of the tickets. For this reason, single-use or virtual Visa numbers may not be appropriate for these purchases.

Spotting Fake Numbers

Visa cards always begin with the number "4" and are 16 digits long. In the past, Visa numbers were 13 digits in length.

Luhn Checks are used by credit card companies, individuals and sellers accepting credit cards to figure out if a card number is fake, and also to generate new valid account numbers. It was developed in 1954 by IBM engineer Hans Luhn. The manual calculation of the Luhn formula is simple and accomplished easily by an individual with a pen and paper, but computers greatly minimize the time required to calculate it. If you are curious about the validity of a Visa number, calculate a Luhn check by following these steps:

How to Carry Out a Luhn Check

  1. Reading the account number from the right to the left, double every other number beginning with the second number. If the product has two digits, add them together to reduce the number to a single digit. For example, if the number in the account was 9, doubling it results in 18. As this has two digits, add the 1 and the 8 together to get 9.
  2. Total the doubled numbers.
  3. Total the single numbers from right to left beginning with the third number.
  4. Add the two totals together.
  5. If the total is not evenly divisible by 10, add the number needed to get to the next number evenly divisible by 10. For example, if the sum is 14, add 6 to get to 20. The number 6 is called the "check digit" and should match the first number on the right end of a Visa account number.

Illegal Use of Fake Numbers

The cost of online credit card fraud is steep. In a paper presented at the 2010 Workshop on the Economics of Information Security at Harvard University, Richard J. Sullivan of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City stated that as of 2009, online credit card fraud -also known as Card Not Presented (CNP) crime- was estimated at $3.3 billion.

Numerous websites claim to offer fake Visa numbers. Beware of visiting and downloading anything from these sites, however, as you may get more than you bargained for in the form of spyware, which can slow down your computer and steal personal information. For cautious Visa Card holders wanting to purchase items online, using one of the alternate solutions listed above is a far better option than generating and using a fake Visa number.

Identifying Fake Visa Card Numbers