Visa Fraud Monitoring For High-Risk Merchants – How At-Risk Are You?

Visa Fraud Monitoring For High-Risk Merchants – How At-Risk Are You?


Visa fraud monitoring can make or break your business. So can chargebacks from Visa card users. You will face fines and even lose the ability to process Visa credit card transactions if fraud and chargeback levels are not below the required Visa thresholds.

So, how does Visa keep track of its business customers like you for fraud and chargebacks? They use two monitoring programs – the Visa Chargeback Monitoring Program (VCMP) and the Visa Fraud Monitoring Program (VFMP). Both programs were recently updated, and like before, you do not want to be in any of them. Keep reading this blog post to learn why.


What is the Visa Chargeback Monitoring Program (VCMP)?

Visa uses their program to monitor merchants who exceed the Visa stipulated threshold for Disputes. As outlined in the Visa Core Rules and Visa Product and Service Rules at Section, your merchant account will enter the VCMP standard program if you meet or exceed any of the following on a monthly basis:

  • 100% filed chargeback Disputes
  • 1.0% chargeback to sales ratio, and effective October 1, 2019, the ratio will decrease to 0.9%

Once you’ve hit the threshold to enter the program, Visa recommends that merchants with high monthly chargeback activity “work with their acquirer to develop a detailed chargeback-reduction plan, which identifies the root cause of the chargeback issue and an appropriate remediation action(s).” Active steps should be taken to remedy the chargeback issue within a reasonable time frame: this is typically two to three months. Depending on your individual situation, your payment processor may allow for more time if an effective plan with intermittent progress is observed.


How is VCMP different from the Visa Fraud Monitoring Program (VFMP)?

While VCMP looks at all merchant dispute activity, the VFMP focuses on fraud. Therefore, the VCMP and the VFMP are two independent programs. That means you could be in both programs at the same time.

Your merchant account will be moved to the VFMP standard program if you meet or exceed any of the following as outlined at Section 10.4.5 of the Visa Core Rules:

  • USD$75,000 fraud amount per month
  • 1.0% fraud dollar to sales dollar ratio per month (once again, this threshold will decrease to 0.9% as of October 1, 2019)


How do you end up in either monitoring program?

There are three threshold levels to both the VCMP and VFMP:

  1. Warning Level. You aren’t in the program yet, but it is the sign that you need to take active measures to reduce your fraud and chargeback rate.
  2. Standard Level. A four-month period that gives you the opportunity to bring your ratio under the Visa threshold. Should you fail this, you will be placed in an eight-month enforcement period, which typically comes with penalties and fines.
  3. Excessive Level. For merchants who have exceeded the chargeback or fraud threshold deemed as excessive.


Unfortunately, merchants classified as high-risk are automatically monitored in this category. This includes e-commerce companies in nutraceutical, adult retail, fitness, health or subscription business categories. Note that at any time you have entered a Visa risk program, your payment processor may decide to cease working with you. This is because your risk level may not be within their standards. The above standards are imposed by Visa. However, your payment processor could decide to terminate the relationship before you reach the second or third level.

Once your account is moved from standard to excessive high risk, exiting the overall monitoring program is not an option. It will remain that way until your performance is below the Standard Dispute or Fraud thresholds for at least several consecutive months. Therefore, even if you fulfil the criteria for the standard program, you cannot move down from the high-risk group.

You can exit either program if you’ve managed to keep your account below the fraud or chargeback rates for three consecutive months.


What sort of penalties could you face?

When you exceed the standard and excessive thresholds for fraud and chargebacks within the Visa Program, you are sure to face problems that can affect your bottom-line or your entire business model.


In the VCMP Standard Program, you will incur penalties at various intervals beginning in the fifth month. The fees are assessed by your payment processing partner. These are evaluated by Visa, and there could be surcharges added by your payment solutions provider.

In the VCMP High-Risk Program, there are monthly noncompliance assessments and applicable fines. Penalties typically start at $10,000 for the first instance and increase exponentially after that should risk thresholds stay high.

Loss of Account

Under both programs, your merchant outlet can be permanently disqualified from the Visa program if you don’t fix the issues within the specified time. Once you’re disqualified, you will also likely lose your merchant account.


Working towards lower dispute and fraud ratios

The resolution process is straightforward. Merchants must provide their plan to their acquirer or payment provider on how they intend to reduce frauds and disputes. This is an area where having expert help from someone who understands your industry makes a difference. Particularly, if you’ve been classified as a high-risk merchant.

As a high-risk merchant, you also have access to the Visa Claims Resolution (VCR) initiative. The VCR aims to improve efficiency in handling Disputes, and this should help you keep your chargeback levels lower as it eases the dispute process when there is a disagreement between you and your customer.

Learning how to prevent high chargeback rates and fraud is essential in maintaining your profitability. So, if you’ve had a problem of maintaining a low chargeback rate in keeping with Visa’s requirements, then get in touch with us. We’ve helped numerous high-risk merchants reduce elevated chargeback levels. Adding the right fraud detection monitoring products can help you stay out of chargeback trouble. Let’s discuss how DirectPayNet can help you take control of fraud and chargebacks in your e-commerce business today.

About the author

As President of DirectPayNet, I make it my mission to help merchants find the best payment solutions for their online business, especially if they are categorized as high-risk merchants. I help setup localized payments modes and have tons of other tricks to increase sales! Prior to starting DirectPayNet, I was a Director at MANSEF Inc. (now known as MindGeek), where I led a team dedicated to managing merchant accounts for hundreds of product lines as well as customer service and secondary revenue sources. I am an avid traveler, conference speaker and love to attend any event that allows me to learn about technology. I am fascinated by anything related to digital currency especially Bitcoin and the Blockchain.