Security features of MasterCard payment cards

The business world has been put on notice. Data breaches are no longer an unlikely risk that only happens to “someone else.” According to Experian, cybersecurity is one of the highest priorities facing businesses and regulation agencies today, and merchants are not the only ones taking action. Credit card companies are also putting protections in place to help merchants combat fraud in their stores. These security features are found in subtle details on printed credit cards, which store clerks can use to verify authenticity.  

MasterCard security protections 

MasterCard has introduced several unique aspects to the cards they issue. Let’s take a look.

Account numbers

All MasterCard accounts begin with the number 5. The first four account numbers should also match the Business Identification Number (BIN) preprinted on the card.

Receipt verification

The last four account numbers listed on the customer’s receipt should match the last four account numbers embossed on the card.


Above the MasterCard logo, you should see two overlapping globes. This is a hologram that should reflect light and appear to change when moved. 

Signature strip 

The signature strip area should have the cardholder’s signature on it, allowing the store clerk to compare the signature with the one the customer provides on the sales receipt. In addition, the word “MasterCard,” printed in multiple colors, will run across the signature panel in a 45 degree angle, and the four numbers printed on the right side should match the last four account numbers on the front.


EMV® (Europay®, Mastercard® and Visa®) is a global standard for the authentication of chip-based credit cards.  Chip cards are credit cards that have sensitive cardholder information embedded in a data chip in the card. Chip cards can be swiped like traditional credit cards, but have extra security advantages when processed via EMV chip readers instead. Beginning October 1, 2015, merchants who do not use a chip card reader to process card-present transactions when a chip card is presented, can be held liable for any fraud that occurs as a result.

Alternative card designs

MasterCard offers more than one layout design on its cards. Differences include a front card that has a vertical orientation to the issuing bank’s logo and the MasterCard logo itself. The global hologram may sit on the back to accommodate EMV chips, and the signature strip may be shorter than on conventional cards. Other back-card designs include a “debit hologram” imprinted under the magnetic stripe on non-chip reading cards. The hologram may also be printed across the width of the card on magnetic tape.

Most cyber-thieves sell stolen personal data to a third party that uses the information to create fraudulent credit cards. If an employee ever encounters a suspicious looking MasterCard card, he or she should call the Voice Authorization Center immediately and request a Code 10. This authorization request sends an alert to the organization that issued the card about suspicious activity. When an operator answers, make sure your employee says, “I have a code 10 Authorization Request.”.

Making sure that all staff members are well trained on how to recognize and report fraud is the first step in the long term fight against cybercriminals who aim to steal from your customers and your livelihood.