Card Recovery Bulletin Definition

What is a card recovery slip?

A card recovery bulletin is a paper list of lost, stolen, overdue, out of limit, counterfeit, or otherwise problematic cards issued by credit card companies such as Visa or MasterCard. Merchants will examine the list to find out if a credit card looks suspicious or not.

Key points to remember

  • A card recovery slip is a pre-digital method for merchants to know if a suspicious credit card has been stolen, is over the limit, or is otherwise problematic.
  • Major credit card companies publish the Bulletin, which is distributed to merchants to alert them to suspicious cards.
  • In the digital age, a merchant is more likely to check electronic records for the validity of a card, as these records are continuously updated.
  • However, credit card companies continue to distribute card recovery bulletins, primarily for the benefit of non-US merchants who may not have electronic access.

Understanding a card recovery slip

Card issuers issue card recovery bulletinsalso known as cancellation bulletins, hot card lists or restricted card listsbut they are generally used by non-US merchants who do not have access to a computer or the Internet. These newsletters were regularly used by American traders before the digital age.

These days, merchants are more likely to check electronic lists of illicit or problematic credit cards. These lists are continuously updated by the credit card companies and are more accurate and up-to-date than card recovery bulletins.

Special Considerations

The first tools used by card issuers and merchants to detect and prevent credit card fraud included card recovery bulletins. Despite advances in card security, fraud remains a serious problem for card issuers. This reality has been underscored by high-profile data breaches by retailers, banks, and other companies that store credit card and personally identifiable information about consumers. There have also been high levels of identity theft. In-person credit card fraud reached $3.68 billion in 2015, but fell to $2.91 billion the following year due to the introduction of EMV chip cards.

Card recovery bulletins can be useful to international merchants when a card looks suspicious or an authorization is denied. The authorization message on a trader’s screen point of sale kiosk will often include instructions for removing the card or requesting additional information from the cardholder. If a merchant is presented with a card listed on the card retrieval slip, they cannot complete the transaction. They are advised to keep the card if it poses no immediate physical threat to the merchant.

Card Recovery Bulletin Evolution

Visa and Mastercard originally developed embossing and micro-security features for credit cards to protect against counterfeits. Visa released its first Card Recovery Bulletin in 1988, which became a catalyst for continued advancements in credit card monitoring and security. The following year, the company created the Visa Issuers’ Clearinghouse Service, a centralized database of approved and fraudulent credit card applications. In 1996 it added the Visa Address Verification Service to allow merchants to confirm a cardholder’s billing address.

Today, Visa, Mastercard and other card issuers rely on digital tools in most markets to detect credit card fraud and fraudulent activity. These tools include smart cards, tokenization, biometricsthe geolocation of mobile devices allowing payment and encryption.