Home ScamsScam Catalogue Verified By Visa Phishing Scam

Verified By Visa Phishing Scam

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline:
Email claiming to be from Visa asks recipients to click a link and provide account information in order to activate the “Verified by Visa” security program.


Status
False – The message is a scam designed to steal financial information.

Example:
Dear Visa® customer,

Before activating your card, read this important information for cardholders!

You have been sent this invitation because the records of Visa Corporate indicate you are a current or former Visa card holder.To ensure your Visa card’s security, it is important that you protect you Visa card online with a personal password. Please take a moment, and activate for Verified by Visa now.

Verified by Visa protects your existing Visa card with a password you create, giving you assurance that only you can use your Visa card online.

Simply activate your card and create your personal password. You’ll get the added confidence that your Visa card is safe when you shop at participating online stores.


Activate Now for Verified by Visa


Thank you for your support.
Visa Service Department



Detailed Analysis:
This email claims to be from credit card provider, Visa and instructs recipients to follow a link to activate “Verified by Visa” security protection on their card. However, in spite of the seemingly genuine logos and formatting in the message, it does not originate from Visa. Instead it is a phishing scam intended to steal financial information. Those who do click on the link in the message will be directed to a fake website designed to closely resemble a genuine Visa web page. The fake site will request details about the cardholder’s account which can then be harvested by the scammers running the phishing operation. In this way the scammers can gain all the data they require to use the compromised card for fraudulent transactions. Phishing scam attacks that use very similar tactics have been launched a number of times over the last few years.

Ironically, “Verified by Visa” is a genuine security program designed to protect consumers from credit card fraud. Cardholders are able to activate the security program by providing a credit card number on a secure Visa web page. The scammers have capitalized on this genuine program by diverting victims to a totally bogus activation process.

Visa has published information about phishing and other scams on its website and includes the following advice:

If you receive an email that appears to be from your card issuer requesting financial information or any other personal data:

  • Treat the email with suspicion.
  • Do not reply to the email or respond by clicking on a link within the email message.
  • Contact your card issuer as soon as possible to report the suspicious email. Use the number or Web site address on the back of your card or on your monthly statement.

In fact, you should be suspicious of any unsolicited email that asks you to click a link and provide personal or financial information. Phishing scammers continually target many financial institutions such as banks and credit card providers.



Last updated: 7th March 2007
First published: 7th March 2007
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

References
Visa Security Program

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer