What is the BIN?
The BIN (or sometimes referred to as IIN) is the first six digits of a credit or debit card. It identifies the issuing bank that issued the card so that the processor knows which issuing bank it needs to communicate with.
What information can BIN tell you?
To understand why BIN matters, let’s look at the information a BIN service providers can decipher and return when given the first 6 digits.
- Card Brand (e.g. Visa, Master, Discover, etc.)
- Card Type (e.g. credit, debit, etc.)
- Card Level (e.g. corporate)
- Issuing Bank Name (e.g Bank of America, etc.)
- Issuing Bank Country (e.g. United States, etc.)
How to use BIN?
The most important part of the BIN data in terms of credit card fraud prevention is identifying the country of the issuing bank. This can be compared to the billing address to provide a quasi-address check. It is extremely uncommon for someone to have a billing address that does not match the country of their issuing bank. In the case of multi-national banks issuing cards in many countries, typically separate BINs are used for cards issued in different countries. So there shouldn’t be confusion there. However, there are certain specific cases where banks from very small countries or regions will share BIN number or BIN range with banks from a larger country, but these are typically not very common.
For certain verticals, knowing the card type would be very useful. Card types usually can identify if the card is a credit, debit, gift, or prepaid card. For continuity or subscription sales, merchants should be weary of gift or pre-paid cards. It is likely that the card will run out of money in subsequent charges. The customer might also load just enough money to pass the initial charge.
When to use it?
- Inexpensive tool but provides great insight
- Use BIN when AVS is not available
- Use BIN as part of your automation strategy
BIN checks are generally fairly inexpensive or bundled into existing fraud solutions so should be always used. You can compare the BIN issuing country to the billing country to see if there is a match. As mentioned above, it is rare to have a legitimate transaction with different billing and issuing countries.
It is also especially valuable when AVS is not used or is unavailable (i.e. most international transactions). In one scenario we often see, fraudsters use stolen foreign (i.e. non-US) cards along with a bogus US billing address that matches the merchant’s location (US) to try to pass muster as a low risk domestic transaction. I n this case, merchants can’t rely on the AVS to make a positive determination because it doesn’t return a match or it is not available. Having the additional information on the BIN can greatly aid merchants in making a decision.
BIN can also be incorporated into your automatic processing work flow. It can be part of your screening process, whether by card type of issuing country to cut down on the number of transactions designated for manual review. You might also develop a negative list of issuing banks and automatically reject those transactions.