E-Commerce Tip: Programmatically Validate Credit Card Numbers

Before I accept any credit card number into my application, I run a simple numerical validation against it. All major credit cards (American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa) use the Luhn algorithm to validate the numbers—why not you? Although this function doesn't go the extra step of actually running the card to see if the transaction will work, it will give you a simple true/false result regarding the card number's validity. The function also ignores all non-digit characters, so your users can enter the number however they wish.

This is the function to run the algorithm on a given string of numbers:

```/// <summary>
/// Validates a credit card number using the standard Luhn/mod10
/// validation algorithm.
/// </summary>
/// <param name="cardNumber">Card number, with or without
///        punctuation</param>
/// <returns>True if card number appears valid, false if not
/// </returns>
public bool IsCreditCardValid(string cardNumber)
{
const string allowed = "0123456789";
int i;

StringBuilder cleanNumber = new StringBuilder();
for (i = 0; i < cardNumber.Length; i++)
{
if (allowed.IndexOf(cardNumber.Substring(i, 1)) >= 0)
cleanNumber.Append(cardNumber.Substring(i, 1));
}
if (cleanNumber.Length < 13 || cleanNumber.Length > 16)
return false;

for (i = cleanNumber.Length + 1; i <= 16; i++)
cleanNumber.Insert(0, "0");

int multiplier, digit, sum, total = 0;
string number = cleanNumber.ToString();

for (i = 1; i <= 16; i++)
{
multiplier = 1 + (i % 2);
digit = int.Parse(number.Substring(i - 1, 1));
sum = digit * multiplier;
if (sum > 9)
sum -= 9;
total += sum;
}
return (total % 10 == 0);
}
```

Eric Smith is the owner of Northstar Computer Systems, a Web-hosting company based in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is also a MCT and MCSD who has been developing with .NET since 2001. In addition, he has written or contributed to 12 books covering .NET, ASP, and Visual Basic.

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