When you buy something online or by phone, you are often asked to enter a credit card’s CVV number. A Card Verification Value or CVV code might be a number you have provided hundreds of times, but have you ever thought about what it might be and why merchants ask for it?

Today, most debit and credit card companies have issued a CVV. A CVV number is a three or four-digit number on the back of your card that puts an extra layer of security when buying something online or on the phone. It ensures that you have a physical copy of the card and protects yourself if your card falls into the wrong hands.

What is a CVV Number on a Credit Card?

Card Verification Value (CVV) is a card verification number that serves as a comprehensive term for the security code on credit cards. Every credit card company has its own generic name for it, like CVV2, Card Verification Value Code; CVC or CVC2, Card Verification Code; CSC, Card Security Code, or CID Card Identification Number.

The differences don’t cease here; the American Express security code uses four-digit security, while Mastercard, Visa, and Discover use a three-digit security code. Whatever its name or length, the CVV code is not a part of your debit/credit card number, PIN, or expiration date. These numbers are all different from each other.

Where Can I Find My CVV Number?

The general location for security codes on Mastercard, Visa, or Discover is at the back, at the extreme right end of the box where you are told to sign the card. The three-digit code for an American Express credit card is generally on the front, above the main credit card number.

The location of the credit card security code may differ from card to card. For example, certain cards might have the code in some other location, like on the back or below the card number.

What is the Purpose of the CVV Security Code?

The significance of the CVV number depends on how merchants manage your credit card data. Merchants that manage credit card information are allowed to save your card data, so you don’t have to enter the same details again and again when you purchase something. Although, if your card data is saved, it has a risk of being stolen.

The CVV code adds an additional layer of protection. According to security standards in the online payment industry, merchants are not allowed to store CVV numbers. This way, even if data security is breached, hackers will still not possess your CVV and will be unable to use the stolen card information.

Now, the question arises that why websites that manage recurring payments, like retailers such as Amazon or OTT platforms like Netflix, can make payments on a saved credit card without us having to re-type your credit card security code every time. Instead, these websites mostly ask for your CVV when you first utilize your card.

From then on, they consider that card as legit for your account. So, for instance, if your data is stolen, the CVV will not be included with it.

How Does My CVV Code Work?

Card security codes are a part of two-factor authentication or verification. Two-factor authentication depends on two parts of data – like a credit card number and a CVV – to ensure the card is in your possession. The CVV confirms you are the cardholder and, as a result, prevents fraud.

If a buyer can enter the card’s CVV correctly during the checkout process, it’s perhaps that the person at least has the card in his physical possession. Conversely, entering the wrong card verification number should result in a transaction being failed.

Always guard your card’s security code closely. If a hacker has your credit card number, security code, and expiration date, that’s all the data he needs to make an online purchase.

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How Much Security Does a CVV Code Provide?

A CVV number is an additional layer of protection that makes fraud challenging but not impossible. For example, there is a decreased chance that your account will be utilized to make unauthorized purchases when somebody acquires your credit card number without the CVV.

You may still be vulnerable in places where the card is utilized without authorization on a site that does not need the CVV code to be entered. Cybercrimes post additional risks. Cyberthieves can use software known as malware to steal CVVs from businesses.

CVVs are also vulnerable to phishing attacks when scammers use copycat websites or fraudulent emails to trick people into sharing important data like security codes. A common scam is deceived phone calls or texts that acts like it is coming from your credit card company and ask for your CVV number to authenticate a recent purchase.

How Can I Protect My CVV Security Code?

To prevent yourself from becoming a victim of credit card fraud, you should safeguard your CVV like any other significant piece of financial information. Here are some simple ways to protect your CVV code from falling into the wrong hands: –

Check your account activity regularly

Check your transactions digitally or when the statement comes in the mail to make sure that you authenticated each one. If there’s a chance you don’t recognize any transaction, contact your bank immediately.

Ignore unwanted requests for your private information

If someone requests your credit card security code, ask why they need it. If important financial data needs to be shared in this way, it’s generally advisable to initiate the interaction by yourself.

Use a VPN when browsing away from home

However, this may be overkill at home; when using public Wi-Fi or traveling, you should utilize a VPN application to safeguard your private information.

Only enter your credit card data on trusted sites

Ignore websites without “HTTPS:” in the URL address; the same applies to those that don’t show the SSL lock in your browser.

Lock your home’s Wi-Fi network

If you don’t password-protect your domestic Wi-Fi network, anyone within range can connect, look through your internet traffic and track any data you send.

Install anti-virus software on your device

Installing anti-virus software on your computer will scan for viruses, keyboard-logging software, and other tools that thieves use to steal private data.

Don’t share photos of your credit card, either on social media or with friends

Do not post photos of your credit card involving the CVV number on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media websites.


All debit cards and credit cards now have card verification numbers on them as a preventive measure to assist ward off fraud purchases made through phone or online. And while a CVV code is tougher to access than your card number, it does not guarantee protection.

They certainly help, but they aren’t infallible. So, it is still advisable to take smart steps to protect yourself and your sensitive information. When using your credit card, be alert of your surroundings and the merchant you’re dealing with. Make sure of the security of your data by keeping an eye on your transactions at all times.

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