Fact Check


Are phony e-mails from VISA's 'Department of International Investigations' luring gullible victims into divulging their credit card information to scammers?

Published March 19, 2002


Claim:   Phony e-mails purportedly from VISA's "Department of International Investigations" are luring gullible victims into divulging their credit card information to scammers.

Status:   Undetermined.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2002]


SCAM ALERT: Visa USA Fraud Control has learned of a scam designed to obtain cardholders personal data and account information. Visa reports this activity in Canada, but suspects it may spread to the United States. A member/cardholder may receive the following letter:

VISA Department of International Investigations.

Dear .......,

We regret to inform you that your credit card is cancelled until further notice and this in accordance with article 205 of chapter 210 of the international fraud department. We suspect that your card has been involved in criminal activity. In the next two days one of our investigators will contact you on the phone and proceed to verify your customer information. The violation of this law is a serious criminal act and could bring you before the courts. Your bank will not be able to assist you until our investigation is over. We are advising you that our offices are open 24 hrs a day. For further information on the matter you may visit our web site at HTTP://WWW.VISAFRAUD.COM

Yours truly,
Director, Visa Corporation

Visa reports it is not sending this letter. Do not respond to this letter or any subsequent telephone calls. Also report to Visa USA Fraud Control, if you receive this or a similar letter. Contact SCAM Alert at 1-800-637-2676, email us at scamalert@cunamutual.com, or fax the information to 608-231-8987.

Origins:   This is another item difficult to classify with a simple "true" or "false" rating:

  • Yes, CUNA Mutual Group is a real financial services provider which offers its members information about potential fraud schemes such as the one cited above. Likewise, Visa USA does operate a fraud control unit. We could not find any mention of this specific item on either of their web sites, however.
  • Yes, scams which prey upon the public's all-too-often unquestioning acceptance of the legitimacy of anyone who represents himself to be part of a law enforcement agency are common, and such methods are often used to obtain credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and other personal financial information from potential victims.
  • No, we haven't turned up any reports of anyone's having been taken in by this particular scam, and the non-existence of the HTTP://WWW.VISAFRAUD.COM web site mentioned in the text should be a dead giveaway to anyone tempted to fall for it.

Last updated:   8 January 2008

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

Article Tags