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ANSI Prefix

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is involved in accrediting organizations that set standards for technology. The ANSI prefix (also known as the PAN prefix) is the “primary account number” for credit card processing. Here is more information on the ANSI Prefix.

What standard has ANSI established for credit cards?

Each merchant account has a special credit card processing number assigned to it. Originally, ANSI was involved in creating these sets of numbers. Each credit card will contain two sets of numbers: 1. Bank Identification Number (BIN) and 2. Primary Account Number (PAN). To prevent fraud, the numbers have a certain algorithmic logic to their structure.

During credit card processing, the numbers must be verified for the sake of authenticity under ISO/IEC 7812. Computer algorithms will look for the PAN associating it with the proper financial institution for reconciliation. This ensures that the proper funds are credited or debited to the proper accounts.

Can hackers create their own PAN prefix?

The credit card issuing company is identified first. Then the merchant account number is compared to the records of that credit card issuing firm to find a match. Stored-value card transactions do not require linkage to a particular customer.

The ANSI prefix originated in the United States. The American Bankers Association (ABA) is the ISO Register for the identification numbers database. It is important to note that there are other types of identification codes used for credit card processing besides the ANSI prefix.

Each bank may have a different length of numbers associated with its credit cards. A credit card issuer may have multiple number ranges for different brands also. Merchants can use their identification numbers for online validation of transactions.

How does the Luhn Algorithm prevent fraud?

The Luhn Algorithm (Modulus 10 Algorithm) is a checksum formula used to verify the majority of credit card identification numbers. Established in 1954 by International Business Machines (IBM) scientists Hans Peter Luhn, it was patented and has since then become public domain under ISO/IEC 7812-1.

The Luhn Algorithm was meant to be an extra verification for human errors. Luhn is effective against a single-digit error using checksum for verification, but it cannot be used to reveal the most sophisticated modern fraud schemes.