What the 3 digits on the back of your card mean and how they're used to protect your finances.
If you're using your credit card to make a purchase online or over the phone, you'll usually be asked to provide the name on your card, the account number, expiration date and something called your CCV or CVC number. These three or four digits are located on the back of your card and are used to help secure your finances when using your card. This guide tells you what these numbers mean, what they're used for and how they help protect your credit card.
What is a CVV or CVC number?
A CVV number (or card verification value) or CVC (card verification code) on your credit card or debit card is a three or four-digit number on your card. If you have a Visa or Mastercard branded credit card or debit card, it'll be a 3 digit number located on the back of your card. If you're using an American Express issued card, the CVV will be a four-digit number found on the front of your card.
The CVV is an anti-fraud measure used when you're making a purchase but aren't required to enter a PIN or sign a receipt. This is why you're often asked to enter your CVV number if you're shopping online or making a purchase over the phone. This is so the merchant or payee can verify that you are indeed the cardholder and to avoid people using your card for fraudulent transactions.
As the CVV or CVC number is only printed on your card, it's important that you keep your card safe and secure. If your card is lost or stolen, anyone could use the card to make online purchases or over the phone transactions without your permission. If this does happen, contact your card issuer immediately to cancel the card and keep an eye on your statement to report any fraudulent transactions. The CVV or CVC number is considered a Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which is commonly used technology which is a digitally provided certification process.
Is a CVV or CVC number called anything else?
The credit card CVC and credit card CCV numbers are sometimes called different things depend on the credit card network or credit card company its issues through. For example, Mastercard calls the code CVC2, American Express refers to it as CID, Discover calls their code CID2, and Visa has dubbed it CVV2. Despite these different names, the codes all serve the same function and are used as a standardised security measure. In the case of 'contactless' cards there is generally a chip involved which supplies its own electronically generated series of codes. They are called Dynamic CVV or iCVV.
Are CVV or CVC numbers the same as my PIN?
No, your CVV or CVC number is different to the PIN code you use to make ATM withdrawals of EFTPOS transactions in-store. On the other hand, your CVC or CVV number is used for verifying online or over the phone payments when you can't use your PIN or signature.
While the CVV or CVC number is in place to protect your credit card from fraudulent transactions or phishing scams when using your card for online or phone transactions, it's important to know that there are still chances that your credit card could still come victim to a scam. That's why it's important to only use your credit card on secure sites and keep track of your credit card statement to spot any suspicious transactions. If you do come across one, make sure to contact your bank immediately to report the issue and protect your finances. See our guide on how to shop online safely for more tips to protect your credit card.
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