What the 3 digits on the back of your card mean, and how they 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, expiry date and something called your CCV, CVC or security number or code. These three or four digits are on the back of your card and they increase the security of it. We’ve explained here what they mean and how they protect your money.
What is a CVV or CVC number?
Your CVV number (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 credit or debit card, it’ll be a three digit number on the back of your card. If you’re using an American Express card, the CVV will be a four-digit number 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 have the physical card and are indeed the cardholder, not a thief.
As the CVV or CVC number is printed only 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 purchases online or over the phone 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 called a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) -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 depending on the credit card network or credit card company that issued it. For example, Mastercard calls the code CVC2, American Express refers to it as CID, and Visa has dubbed it CVV2, while other providers may refer to a CSC (card security code). 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 from the PIN code you use to make cash machine withdrawals or in-store debit or credit card transactions. 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, it could still be used fraudulently if you don’t use a secure site. If you spot a transaction you don’t recognise on your statement, contact your bank immediately to report the issue and protect your finances.