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VISA WARNS CONSUMERS ABOUT FRAUDULENT CARD OFFERS

 VISA WARNS CONSUMERS ABOUT FRAUDULENT CARD OFFERS
 SAN FRANCISCO, May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Visa U.S.A. has developed a


list of "warning signs" consumers can use to help protect themselves against fraudulent companies which make illegal payment card solicitations to the general public.
 Companies not affiliated with Visa or its member financial institutions have been victimizing consumers recently by making payment card offers that appear to be authentic. The scam artists have used television, radio and print advertisements as well as direct-mail solicitations to offer credit, debit or secured cards which, in most cases, simply do not exist. In many cases, consumers have paid out application fees or made initial deposits with the expectation of receiving Visa cards, only to have the phony companies pocket the money and disappear.
 Through the court system, Visa and its member financial institutions have pursued many of these companies and have worked closely with law enforcement agencies around the country to identify new scam operations and shut them down as they emerge. However, according to David Nordemann, senior vice president in charge of the Visa U.S.A. Risk Management Division, "One of the best defenses against these fraud artists is to educate consumers on how to tell the difference between legitimate offers and fake ones."
 To raise awareness among consumers, Visa U.S.A. and its member financial institutions have identified five criteria by which consumers can judge the authenticity of card solicitations, based on new Visa regulations now in effect. Consumers should keep a sharp look-out for solicitations that feature any of the following red flags:
 -- The solicitation charges a fee for the consumer to receive a
 card application -- this is prohibited by Visa's operating
 regulations.
 -- The solicitation does not identify the name of any Visa member
 financial institution that would issue the card -- Visa
 regulations require disclosure of the issuer's name.
 -- The solicitation, when appearing in a newspaper classified
 advertisement, contains the Visa name, mark or logo design.
 -- The solicitation for a secured card uses a 900 number, which
 automatically assesses a fee for inquiring about the offer.
 -- The solicitation for a secured card does not state clearly that
 the consumer must open a deposit account to obtain a card and
 that the deposit will serve as collateral for the account.
 -- The solicitation guarantees the consumer will receive a card --
 financial institutions will rarely, if ever, make such a
 promise.
 Nordemann said that legitimate card offers are only made by Visa member financial institutions or their registered marketing organizations. If a consumer has a question about the authenticity of a particular offer that identifies a financial institution, Visa recommends calling the customer service department of the financial institution to ensure the offer is legitimate. If no institution is identified in the solicitation, consumers should not even consider the offer.
 Consumers who encounter solicitations which appear to violate Visa's above guidelines can call a toll-free Visa 800 number (800-235-5520) and leave recorded information about the bogus offers. Visa investigators will check out any new leads and pursue the violators.
 Visa, with more than 9 million acceptance locations and 281 million cards issued, including 142 million in the United States, is the world's largest consumer card payment program.
 -0- 5/12/92
 /CONTACT: Gregory J. Holmes of Visa U.S.A., 415-570-2107/ CO: Visa U.S.A. ST: California IN: FIN SU:


RM-MC -- SF001 -- 9056 05/12/92 11:01 EDT
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 12, 1992
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