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Visa Credit Card Changes May Affect Some Charities and Their Fundraising

October 10, 2018

By Maddy Sawyer, Blumberg’s 

As of October 14, 2018, Visa will be enforcing new requirements for ALL ecommerce and phone transactions using Visa cards.

These requirements are that all such transactions will require the Visa card’s CVV number, which is the 3-digit number on the back of the card used for security verification, before the payment can be processed. There is also the further requirement that a card’s CVV number cannot be requested in written form (CVV numbers can be entered into online payment forms when completing the transaction, but cannot be requested on paper forms, to be processed later).

This move is in response to trends in fraudulent credit card transactions in Canada. It used to be that most fraud came from swiping transactions, using a copy of the card’s magnetic strip. However, with the introduction of more secure chip technology, swipe transactions have become less frequent, and indeed, Visa will be phasing out magnetic strip transactions by October 2019.

This has led to an increase in fraud with card-not-present (CNP) transactions, which now accounts for the vast majority of credit card fraud in Canada. The CVV requirement is meant to add an extra layer of protection for Visa cardholders. Any merchant that accepts a payment without the CVV number, or with a number that is incorrect, will be liable for that transaction.

What are the implications of this change in policies for the charity sector? This change is not likely to have a large impact on the charity sector. Online service providers in Canada, such as CanadaHelps, already require the CVV number when accepting a donation. It has been a standard practice in Canada for many years now. Therefore, for most charities that accept Visa CNP donations, this will not change their practices or operations in any way.

However, there still may be some impact on certain registered charities.  There are smaller or less technologically sophisticated charities that may not have websites or service providers that accept online payments. They may be collecting credit card donations via paper donation forms, which they then process manually on credit/debit terminals.

The new requirements will force these charities to change their systems, and for some the change may be a burden.   With the new rules, the charity will have to 1) call their donors individually to get the CVV number over the phone, 2) take the payment in person with the card present, or 3) forgo accepting Visa card donations. All of these options could result in increased costs and loss of donations for these charities.

There is no obligation for charities to accept donations via credit cards, but if they do, they have to accept the terms and conditions of those payment forms.

While this new requirement from Visa could incur additional costs or donation losses for some charities, overall, this change is not likely to have a large effect on the charitable sector. Furthermore, this change is in response to increased CNP fraud. It is designed to give cardholders more protection and more confidence in their spending. If cardholders are not confident in the security of their credit cards, they are less likely to use the credit card, which makes donations much easier for people.

Charities should review their systems to see if this change from Visa will impact them.


Maddy Sawyer is a lawyer at Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto, Ontario.  She can be contacted at 416-361-1982. To find out more about legal services that Blumbergs provides to Canadian charities and nonprofits please visit,,,or 

This article is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice. You should not act or abstain from acting based upon such information without first consulting a legal professional.


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