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VISA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Decmber 15, 2006

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Steve Burke
Creative Response Concepts
(703) 683-5004 ext. 136
sburke@crc4pr.com

Visa USA Releases Online Safety Tips, Offers Budgeting Center to Assist Last Minute Holiday Shoppers

Today Expected to Be The Busiest Online Holiday Shopping Day

San Francisco, CA – December 15, 2006-With reports that today will be the busiest online holiday shopping day of the year and with more and more shoppers deciding to shop from the comfort of their own homes, Visa USA is providing a few basic tips to help last minute online holiday shoppers keep their personal information safe and budget in check.

“E-commerce spending during this holiday shopping season is already up from last year,” said Rosetta Jones, vice president, Visa USA. “We want to make sure that those cardholders who choose to shop online remain safe and secure and do not become unknowing victims of identity theft.”

There are simple steps consumers can take to protect their personal information while shopping on the Internet. Available at www.visa.com/security, they include:

  • Shop only at Internet merchants you know and trust; if in doubt, check with the Better Business Bureau, http://www.bbb.org.
  • Beware of emails offering cut-rate prices on popular toys, software or other gifts; if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If you receive an unsolicited email from an Internet merchant, do not click on the links within it. Instead, locate the merchant’s Web site address through a reputable search engine or type the known address.
  • Check Internet merchants’ refund policies; some merchants set a deadline for returns or charge a fee to accept returned merchandise.
  • Never share your passwords with anyone. Use different passwords for different Web sites.
  • Do not provide your social security number, birth date, or mother’s maiden name in an email or within a Web site.
  • Ensure your computer has the latest anti-virus software installed before shopping online.
  • Always print and save the confirmation page when completing an online purchase.
  • Don’t wait for paper statements. Check your credit card and bank statements for suspicious activity by either calling your bank or visiting your financial institution’s Web site.

Consumers using Visa-branded credit, debit, prepaid and gift cards online this holiday season can be reassured that they are protected by Visa’s multiple layers of security. Should a Visa cardholder find charges on their statement they did not authorize, Visa's zero liability policy protects cardholders from unauthorized purchases if their card is ever lost or stolen. Visa's zero liability policy ensures that they pay nothing - not a cent - for such transactions. This is a level of protection not offered by cash, checks, gift certificates or store-issued gift cards.

To thwart online fraud, Visa cards carry a 3-digit code on the back of the card, known as the Cardholder Verification Value or, CVV2, which helps ensure that the physical card is in the cardholder’s possession while shopping online or by phone.

Visa Gift cards provide an additional layer of security against in-store fraud, as well. Unlike many store-issued gift cards that are typically glued onto a piece of cardboard and exposed to consumers, the Visa Gift card number is protected and fully enclosed in tamper-evident packaging that shields the entire card, making it viewable only after the packaging has been opened. To further protect their card, cardholders can check the balance on a Visa Gift card over the Internet or by telephone.

In the unlikely event of identity theft, Visa also has programs in place to assist its cardholders recover. Visa and the consumer group Call for Action, have established a free, confidential program to assist identify theft victims. Help is available by calling (toll-free) 1-866-ID-HOTLINE. Additionally, Visa has established Personal Identity Theft Coverage, which is an optional benefit for cardholders offered through participating Visa member financial institutions.

Visa’s award-winning financial education program, Practical Money Skills for Life (www.practicalmoneyskills.com), also features step-by-step actions consumers should take if they suspect identity theft, as well as advice for safeguarding your information.

In addition to monitoring their bank accounts and statements, consumers should also be checking that holiday budget twice. In fact, some financial planners recommend that no more than 1.5 percent of one’s annual income should be spent on holiday expenses.

“Last minute holiday shopping can spell panic and problems for one’s finances so making a realistic budget and sticking with it is critical to making sure holiday cheer doesn’t later turn into shopper’s remorse,” said Alderman.

To help consumers in this area, Visa USA recently launched a free online Holiday Budgeting Center, available at www.practicalmoneyskills.com/holiday, to help consumers avoid the temptation to overspend this holiday shopping season.

This comprehensive Center features a variety of online tools to help consumers figure out how much to spend, along with help constructing a shopping budget and a printable gift log to track spending. There are also tools to assist with making a budget for hosting holiday parties and for travel costs, for those who are spending the holidays away from home.

About Visa
Visa USA is the nation's leading payment brand and largest payment system, enabling banks to provide their consumers and business customers with a wide variety of payment alternatives tailored to meet their evolving needs. Visa USA is committed to increasing the choice, convenience, acceptance and security of Visa payments for all stakeholders in the payment system — members, cardholders and merchants. Through its 13,369 member financial institutions, more than 500 million Visa-branded cards have been issued to cardholders in the United States.

Worldwide, cardholders in more than 150 countries carry more than 1 billion Visa-branded cards, accounting for more than $3 trillion in annual transaction volume. VisaNet, Visa’s global processing system and the world’s largest financial network, processes transactions with unparalleled reliability.

Visa offers a trusted, reliable and convenient way to access and mobilize financial resources — anytime, anywhere, anyway.

For more information or to schedule an interview with a Visa USA spokesperson, please contact Steve Burke at (703) 683-5004 ext. 108, or sburke@crc4pr.com.

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