CVV and CVC: Understanding the Codes on Your Card

06 Jun 2024 - Category: Blog /

Online shopping and e-commerce have become integral parts of our daily lives, however,ensuring the security of our financial transactions is paramount.

One of the key elements in this security framework is the use of CVV (Card Verification Value) and CVC (Card Verification Code) codes.

These seemingly small numbers play a significant role in protecting your credit or debit card from unauthorised use.

In this article, we will talk about what CVV and CVC codes are and why they matter!

Bonus: You get practical tips on how to make secure online transactions.

What is CVV?

A CVV, or Card Verification Value, is a three-digit number found on VISA, MasterCard, and Discover cards. On American Express cards, it's a four-digit number exclusive to each customer. This number is important for your security.

When you shop online, sharing your CVV proves that you have the actual card with you. This ensures that there’s no fraudulent activity at your expense, for example, someone using your card number to make purchases without your knowledge. Think of it as a secret code that protects your card from being misused.

Sometimes, you might hear people call it a CSC, or Card Security Code. It’s the same as a CVV. There’s also something called a CVV2 number. It’s just a newer version of the CVV, created to give you extra safety.

By using your CVV, you’re taking a smart step to guard against fraud. It’s a simple way to check that you’re the real cardholder, which is great for peace of mind when buying online.

What is CVC?

So, what is CVC on a debit card or credit card? A CVC code, or Card Verification Code, is an extra number on your debit or credit card. You’ll find it on the back of most cards like Visa, MasterCard, and bank cards.

It’s the last three digits on the signature strip. For American Express (AMEX) cards, it’s a four-digit code on the front. Only the card owner is likely to know the CVC. It’s not on any receipts and it’s not raised like the card number.

Why CVV/CVC Codes Matter

We have already talked about CVC/CVV meaning. CVV vs CVC codes are key when you’re buying something over the phone or online. They help keep your money safe in several ways.

Let’s look at the top four:

1. Preventing Fake Charges

When you buy something online, and the seller can’t see your card, that’s a card-not-present transaction. These are riskier for sellers than in-person sales. That’s why online shops often ask for your CVV number. It’s a way to check that you really have the card with you.

2. Extra Layer of Protection

Sadly, data theft is common. Hackers might steal your card number from places where you’ve shopped before. The big credit card groups have rules to stop this.

They say shops can’t keep your card number unless it’s for a good reason, like a subscription.

For example, if you get cat food delivered every month, the store will save your card details. But they have to keep your CVV number safe and secret.

3. Checking Merchant Information

The credit card purchase process involves several steps. Typically, before completing a transaction, retailers check whether the account you want to use for the purchase has enough funds.

During this process, CVV codes are temporarily stored. Here’s how the verification process works:

The merchant collects the account number, expiry date, and CVV number from a customer’s card.

The retailer sends this data to the credit card issuer. The credit card issuer checks if the credit card has been reported lost or stolen.

The bank or credit card issuer confirms that the cardholder hasn’t exceeded their credit limit (for credit cards) or that there’s enough money in their account (for debit cards).

The credit card company approves or disapproves the transaction for the business.

The merchant finalizes the transaction only when all security and payment requirements are met.

4. Complying with Payment Industry Standards

Since using a credit card involves some risk, retailers must follow strict data security guidelines.

These are known as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, or PCI DSS, established by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council.

Merchants who violate PCI data security rules face monthly fines ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.

Practical Tips for Secure Online Transactions

Understanding the risks linked to sharing your CVV/CVC details is vital.

Fraudsters can steal your CVV and CVC data and use it for harmful activities, including identity theft and illegal transactions.

Being aware of the importance of keeping your CVV/CVC private helps you take steps to protect your financial and personal data.

Following these steps is key to ensuring the safe handling and use of CVV/CVC data:

Don’t Share CVC or CVV

People should never disclose their CVV details to anyone. Legitimate companies don’t need the CVV data for regular queries or transactions.

Be careful and handle this information with utmost caution.

Make Secure Online Purchases

Prioritize secure websites and payment gateways that require a CVV or CVC for verification when making online transactions.

Look for signs of a secure connection, like the padlock icon in your browser’s address bar or https in the URL.

Beware of Phishing Attempts

Identify common phishing tactics used to steal CVV/CVC data. Phishing emails and texts may mimic reputable companies to trick users into revealing private information.

Be cautious and ensure any requests for CVV/CVC data are legitimate before responding.

Store CVV/CVC Safely

Avoid saving CVV/CVC data online or in easily accessible forms. Memorize the CVV/CVC code, or write it down in a secure place that’s not digital.

Storing CVV/CVC data electronically increases the risk of unauthorized access.

Monitor Card Statements Regularly

Keep checking your credit card statements regularly. Monitoring transactions allows you to quickly spot any fraudulent charges.

Contact the card issuer immediately to report any suspicious activity.

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