How to Use Visa Merchant Screening Service

The Visa Merchant Screening Service (“VMSS”) is a risk management tool and central database designed for participation by Visa acquirers to facilitate the Merchant and Third Party Agent acquisition due diligence process, by allowing Visa acquirers to determine if a potential new Merchant, Sponsored Merchant or Third Party Agent (including but not limited to a Payment Facilitator, Marketplace, Staged Digital Wallet Operator (SDWO) or Independent Sales Organization) (each as defined in the Visa Core Rules and Visa Product and Service Rules) had previously been terminated for defined reason(s) by any acquirer and assessing the risk associated with Merchants, Sponsored Merchants or Third Party Agents in onboarding decisions (“VMSS Purpose”).

Acquirers who subscribe to VMSS service in global Visa Online may access VMSS data in real-time using VMSS web-based online application. Acquirers may also choose to use the VMSS Application Programming Interface (VMSS API) available through Visa Developer Center after a commercial agreement is signed.

The VMSS API Specification outlines the request and response attributes of the supported API calls. 

Termination Management

VMSS allows Acquirers to manage complete info of their terminated Merchants, Sponsored Merchants and Third Party Agents in one central Terminated Listing Database compiled by Visa. 

Add a terminated listing

Acquirers must add a terminated listing under VMSS by providing the Merchant, Sponsored Merchant or Third Party Agent details and the defined termination reason(s) one business day after termination if VMSS listing criteria are met. This can be done using VMSS web-based online application or API.

Modify a terminated listing

Acquirers can modify a terminated listing added by their organization under VMSS. This can be done using VMSS web-based online application or API.

Delete a terminated listing

Acquirers can delete a terminated listing added by their organization under VMSS. This can be done using VMSS web-based online application only.

Get all terminated listings

Acquirers can get all terminated listings added by their own organization under VMSS. This can be done using VMSS web-based online application or API.

Termination Inquiry

VMSS allows Acquirers to identify Merchants, Sponsored Merchants and Third Party Agents terminated by other Acquirers and pull the termination details directly from the Terminated Listing Database. 

Search a terminated listing

Acquirers can search for a Merchant, Sponsored Merchant or Third Party Agent to identify whether it was terminated by other Acquirers in the past 5 years under VMSS and, if so, why and when. If there is no match found, Acquirers can choose to retain the search request for 180 days and check against all new terminated listings entered by other Acquirers. This can be done using VMSS web-based online application or API.

Get retroactive alerts for terminated Merchants or Agents

Acquirers can get retroactive alerts for the possibly matched terminated Merchants, Sponsored Merchants or Third Party Agents added by other Acquirers based on the saved searches made by their organization. This can be done using VMSS web-based online application or API.

VMSS Listing Criteria

VMSS 2.0 standardizes a globally consistent set of VMSS Listing Reason Codes and depart from the regional variations as currently exist for AP and Europe. The global Listing Reason Codes should be used when adding terminated Merchant, Sponsored Merchant or Third Party Agent details to the VMSS database starting in November 2020. Prior to November 2020, region-centric VMSS 1.0 Listing Reason Codes should be used when adding terminated listings to the VMSS database.

Global Listing Reason Codes for VMSS 2.0 - to be used by all Regions starting in November 2020

LISTING REASON CODE LISTING REASON DEFINITIONS

21

Excessive Fraud

The Merchant or Third Party Agent submitted excessive fraudulent transactions (US$250,000 fraud amount and 1.8 percent (180 basis points) fraud-to-sales amount ratio in any single month) into payment system, and did not adequately remediate. 

22

Excessive Disputes

The Merchant or Third Party Agent generated excessive disputes (1,000 dispute count, and 1.8 percent (180 basis points) dispute-to-sales amount ratio in any single month) into payment system and did not adequately remediate.

23

Transaction Laundering

The Merchant or Third Party Agent misrepresented the source of submitted transactions (unauthorized aggregation), and/or submitted transactions on behalf of another Merchant (factoring). 

24

Illegal Transactions

The Merchant or Third Party Agent submitted unlawful and/or prohibited transactions into the payment system.

25

Visa Risk Compliance Program Identification

The Merchant or Third Party Agent was terminated at the Acquirer's discretion after identification in a Visa risk compliance program and did not adequately remediate.

26

Merchant Collusion

The Merchant or Third Party Agent colluded to commit fraud.

27

Common Point of Purchase (CPP)

The Merchant or Third Party Agent was identified as a location where account data from legitimate transactions was compromised for use in subsequent fraudulent activity (including skimming) and did not adequately remediate.

28 Fraud Conviction The principal owner(s) of a Merchant outlet or Third Party Agent was/were convicted of a fraud crime.
29 Bankruptcy/Liquidation/Insolvency The Merchant or Third Party Agent cannot fulfill its financial obligations due to potential or actual bankruptcy, insolvency, or suspension of business operations.
30 Violation of Merchant or Third Party Agent Agreement The Merchant or Third Party Agent breached their agreement.
31 Violation of the Visa Rules The Merchant or Third Party Agent violated the Visa Rules exposing the Acquirer of the payment system to undue risk.
32 Account Information Security Program Noncompliance The Merchant or Third Party Agent was non-compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and/or the Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS) requirements.
33 Account Data Compromise The Merchant or Third Party Agent suffered a data breach, directly or indirectly resulting in an unauthorized disclosure of payment account and/or transaction information.
34 Merchant Identity Theft

The Merchant application was submitted using principal owner and /or corporate officer information belonging to individuals that were never party to the Merchant agreement.  

35 Disqualification from the Visa Payment System Visa disqualified the Merchant or Third Party Agent from participating in the Visa payment system.

Listing Reason Codes for VMSS 1.0 in the Europe Region

LISTING REASON CODE LISTING REASON DEFINITIONS

01

Exceeds objective reporting standards (such as fraud, counterfeit)

The Merchant processed irregularities (fraudulent transactions of any type, including counterfeit). The Merchant met or exceeded the objective reporting standard.

02

Laundering

The Merchant contract was terminated because the Merchant deposited sales drafts on behalf of a third party. The Merchant presented to you invalid transaction records for the sale of goods between that Merchant and a valid cardholder. 

03

Excessive Chargebacks/Disputes

The Merchant contract was terminated because you received an excessive number of chargebacks/credits/ disputes due to the Merchant’s way of doing business.

04

Insolvency

The Merchant contract was terminated after the Merchant, or principal/owner was identified as prevented from continuing to trade (for example, as a result of a regulatory or administrative proceeding). The Merchant was unable to fulfill their financial obligations.

05

Cardholder information misuse

The Merchant contract was terminated after the Merchant was identified as a common point of purchase or compromise for original card data used on counterfeit cards. The Merchant knowingly caused or facilitated by any means, the unauthorised disclosure or use of cardholder account information.

06

Agreement violation

The Merchant contract was terminated because the Merchant broke a significant term or condition of their agreement with you.

07

Card scheme violation

The Merchant contract was terminated because the Merchant broke one or more of the standards (rule or bylaw) set out in the Payment Card Scheme Operating Regulations.

08 Questionable merchant The Merchant contract was terminated by the Payment Card Scheme because the Merchant failed an audit carried out by the Payment Card Scheme (or the audit closed without conclusive evidence).

Listing Reason Codes for VMSS 1.0 in the Asia Pacific Region

LISTING REASON CODE LISTING REASON DEFINITIONS

01

Deposited fraud transactions

The Merchant deposited fraudulent transactions from either magnetic stripe-read or manually imprinted transaction receipts.

03

Processed transactions for a third party

The Merchant processed transactions for a third party.

04

Excessive chargebacks and refunds received

The Merchant received an excessive number of chargebacks due to the Merchant’s business practices.

05

Identified in Visa Risk Programs

The Acquirer terminated the Merchant at its discretion after Visa identified the Merchant through an audit, investigation, or reporting system as being involved in fraudulent or suspect activity.

06

Acquirer identified fraud activity

The Acquirer decided to terminate the Merchant at its discretion after an internal audit, investigation, or audit system revealed fraudulent activity.

07

Risk of becoming bankrupt, liquidated/insolvent

The Merchant or another interested party is or is likely to become bankrupt, liquidated, or insolvent resulting in an increased loss exposure to the Acquirer or the membership.

08

Violated the merchant agreement

The Merchant violated the Merchant Agreement, resulting in an increased loss exposure to the Acquirer or the membership.

09 Identified as a Point of Compromise The Merchant was terminated after being identified as a “Point of Compromise”, a Merchant location where valid account data from legitimate transactions is compromised for use in subsequent fraudulent or counterfeit activity.
10 Involved in fraud in another payment system The Acquirer terminated the Merchant after the Merchant was identified through an audit, investigation, or audit system as being involved in fraudulent activity with respect to another payment system.
13 Illegal Transactions The Merchant or Third Party Agent submitted unlawful and/or prohibited transactions into the payment system.
14 Suspicious Activity The Acquirer has terminated the Merchant as they suspect suspicious activities have taken place.
15 Bust out Merchant The Merchant submitted a large volume of transactions and ran off with the money.