Ask Finder: Is a CVV required for a refund?

Posted: 25 September 2019 3:37 pm
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A woman with a concerned expression, looking at her phone and credit card.

Your credit card's CVV is typically used when you shop online, so should you be suspicious if someone asks for it when processing a refund?

Dear Finder,
A hotel recently overcharged me and I only found out when I returned home. I called them up to get a refund and they asked for all my credit card details, including the 3-digit CVV on the back of the card. Do they really need that number for the refund?
Thanks,
Cautious Cat

This is a really important question to ask before you ever give out your card's CVV or any other details that can be used to make online payments.

In most cases, you should not need to provide your CVV for a refund.

This applies when you've made the purchase in person as well as when you're requesting a refund face-to-face. It also applies to refunds for payments you've made online.

In all of these cases, the business should already have the details they require to process the refund. Then, it's a matter of them confirming your information and making sure it's the same card – so they may ask for the card number and name. If you're getting a refund in person, you may also need to enter your PIN or sign the refund receipt.

So, assuming you paid the hotel in person or through an online booking system, you shouldn't have to give them your CVV to get a refund.

When might a CVV be needed for card refunds?

The major exception around CVVs and refunds is when a business is processing it as a MOTO (Mail Order/Telephone Order) transaction. In simple terms, some businesses include a MOTO option in their payment set-up as a way of processing phone and other card-not-present transactions.

With this option selected, a CVV will typically be requested when processing any transactions the business puts through as a Telephone Order.

According to Tyro Payments – one of the major EFTPOS and payment processing providers in Australia – this is because these types of transactions are riskier for businesses and "require more careful possessing than a card present transaction​".

But not all refunds (or purchases) made over the phone are processed as MOTO transactions. So, if you are asked for your card's CVV as part of a refund, it's worth asking whether this is needed and finding out why it is needed before going ahead.

If you're suspicious, you could also contact your credit card provider to discuss your options. In some cases, you may be able to dispute it or request a chargeback instead.

Ask Finder is a regular column where Finder's expert writers answer your questions. All rates and fees are correct at the time of publication and we only give general advice.

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