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Mastercard and Visa Rules

Learn about rules Mastercard and Visa have created to protect card brands and consumers from illegal and/or brand-damaging activity.

The Mastercard Business Risk Assessment and Mitigation (BRAM) Program and the Visa Integrity Risk Program (VIRP) — formerly the Global Brand Protection Program (GBPP) — are designed to protect card brands and consumers from illegal and/or brand-damaging activity. These programs impose fines on acquiring banks for any detected processing of fraud, illegal activity, or activity that may pose regulatory or reputational risk.
Examples of such damaging activity include the illegal sale of prescription drugs or counterfeit merchandise, illegal or miscoded gambling, and child exploitation or banned pornography. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it illustrates the important role these programs play in keeping the payments ecosystem a safer place for consumers.
How Do Mastercard and Visa's Rules Affect Me?


For Merchants, BRAM or VIRP (formerly GBPP) violations can result in financial penalties, account termination, and more. Fines can be passed down to merchants from their acquirer. Furthermore, a violative merchant is included in a database of merchants whose accounts were terminated within the preceding five years. This can make it difficult to acquire a merchant account in the future.


Acquirers must properly classify high-risk merchants and ensure that their merchants are not processing illegal or brand-damaging transactions. Failure to do so can result in fines as high as six figures per transaction. However, acquirers who use a merchant monitoring partner such as LegitScript can qualify for fine mitigation of up to 75% to 100%.


Download our BRAM and VIRP Basics guide to learn more about mitigating your risk.