What Every Merchant Needs to Know About Code 10 Calls

What Every Merchant Needs to Know About Code 10 Calls


We’ve been getting quite a few questions about Code 10 calls. Regular readers of this blog have seen the term referred to in a number of articles and want to know what it means. Additionally, non-readers who’ve been inquiring about our credit card processing services have occasionally asked us about it, after hearing the term elsewhere.


So in this article I will explain what a Code 10 call is, when you should make it and how.

What is Code 10?


Code 10 is a voice authorization request during a card-present transaction that alerts the card issuer to a suspicious activity, without alerting the customer. Whenever a merchant doubts the validity of the card or the legitimacy of the cardholder, he or she should make a Code 10 call to the processor’s voice authorization center.


The processor will then route the call to the card issuer. An operator will pick it up and ask a series of “yes” and “no” questions to determine the validity of the transaction. Once a conclusion is reached, the merchant will be given instructions on how to proceed.

When to Make a Code 10 Call?


There are multiple reasons to make a Code 10 authorization request, including:

  • After the card is swiped, the point-of-sale (POS) terminal displays a “Lost or Stolen Card,” “Pick Up Card” or a similar kind of message.
  • During the inspection of the card the merchant discovers that its security features have been altered or tampered with in some way.
  • The signature on the transaction receipt does not match the one on the back of the card.
  • The customer behaves in a suspicious or unusual manner. You should be careful with jumping to conclusions on this count, as there may be a perfectly legitimate explanation for your customer’s behavior.


How to Make a Code 10 Call?


The making of a Code 10 call is a fairly straightforward process. Whenever you have to do it, keep the card in your possession and follow these simple steps:

  • Call your processor’s voice authorization center and say to the operator who picks it up “I have a Code 10 authorization request.”
  • You may be asked some additional questions and then will be transferred to the card issuer.
  • The issuer’s operator will ask you a series of “yes” and “no” questions. Answer calmly, in your normal voice.
  • Follow the operator’s instructions.


If the instruction is to pick up the card, you should only attempt it if it is safe to do so. If not, complete the transaction, wait for the customer to leave the store and alert your processor. Even though it would be too late at this point to prevent a fraudulent transaction from taking place, you would help prevent one from occurring in the future, possibly again at your store. Additionally, you may need to alert the police.


Image credit: 1nbcard.com.

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