Scam of the week - 'Verified by Visa' con

Last updated: Aug 7th, 2012
Feature by Rebecca Rutt

Several Moneywise readers have contacted us regarding emails purporting to be from Verified by Visa.

These phishing emails usually include a mixture of fake and genuine information and ask the recipient to set a new secure password for their Verified by Visa account.

The emails can also include links asking for security data or personal information. This would then allow the fraudster access to the individual’s account.

One email sent to us by a reader had both the MasterCard and Visa logo within it. This immediately rang alarm bells as these are separate companies, and they would not send out a joint email.

The email was addressed "Dear cardholder" instead of a personalised address, and the link included in the email was not properly formatted. However, the web address and phone number were correct and the Visa logo was included making the email look genuine.

A spokesperson from Visa Europe says: "Verified by Visa will never send you an email requesting you to update your details for any reason. If you get one of these emails, it is a scam and you should report it to your card issuer."

For more on the most recent scams we have been alerted to by our readers, read our Scam Watch update


The Verified by Visa service was created to give you extra protection when you buy something online. Before a purchase is confirmed, a window will appear asking the customer to confirm certain security details.

MasterCard has a similar service called ‘Secured by MasterCard’ that works in the same way. If you want to sign up to either service you can do this on the company website.

If you receive an email from Verified by Visa that you suspect is fraudulent do not provide any security or personal details. Instead, contact Visa directly to confirm if the email is genuine or not. You can also forward this email to to be investigated.

If the email is a potential scam from MasterCard, you can forward this to MasterCard at

Have you been scammed? Let the Moneywise Scam Watch team know by emailing

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Your Comments

 I've never liked this system, as I feel that it encourages you to forget your password, so you have to reenter it every time. That is what the scam is probably playing on.
Does anybody know of a bank, that issues a Visa card, that desn't insist on using this dreadful system?

I am shocked that people are not a bit  less trusting of the current banking/financail institututions in our green and dodgy land right now. I plan to ditch my bank for my supermarket as long as they offer me what i ask for verry soon.Also i am a bit shocked at your comments about freebee sites and being prepaired for a lot of emails the ones you failed to mention are the ones that do the same as your competition site.its taken me months to get them off my back or rather my phone and a lot of advice from a site that is on first impressions not dissimaler to your own.I honestly thought you were a sound safe place untill now i have found you information  really helpfull now i feel a bit scammed to be frank.

 ICICI Bank UK do not use the 'Verified by Visa' system.
You will encounter some problems when buying some items or paying for things online with some organisations-where they use the 'Verified by Visa' system.
Orange Mobile Topups use this and my ICICI Bank card was refused, but I used my Barclays Bank debit card, which does have the 'Verified by Visa' and the transaction went through ok!!

 I have yet to find anyone who has ever been able to complete the 'Verified by Visa' check. I hate it and find it the most obnoxious waste of time and totally useless. Everytime I use it I have to create a new password. So things like whataloadofidiots123 becomes the temporary password until next time I have to go throught the same stupid rigmarole. The fact is that some not such idiots are obviously creaming off a commission by playing on our fears and those of the brainless banks. I find now that the whole password thing has become counterproductive as the password systems differ so much that the passwords become so prolific and varied that there is no choice but to record them, thus defeating the whole thing. I have to carry around a load of passwords just to get by! I tried Roboform but despite having paid for the service, when they upgraded it they wanted me to pay again! Such is the technology age we live in!

It's possibly worth noting that Verified by Visa (and its evil twin Mastercard Secure) are there to protect the merchant, not the cardholder, whatever they may say.
Some card issuers are gradually switching to a system known as "Adaptive Authentication" where automatic checks are made, so that the cardholder may not see anything other than something flashing up briefly on the screen.