What is a CVV number?
When shopping online, websites might ask you to enter your card verification value (CVV) at the checkout. You may also need to provide this when making purchases over the phone or through the mail. That’s because your CVV number offers an additional level of security against credit card fraud during card-not-present transactions.
Your CVV is a three- or four-digit code and can be found either on the front or back of your card, depending on the issuer. It is unique from your card’s PIN number, which you will need to input for in-person purchases or cash withdrawals.
Why are CVV numbers important?
Merchants are unable to verify your signature or that you have physical possession of the payment card during card-not-present transactions. The CVV code acts as an extra level of security to ensure the account holder is making the purchase.
Card-not-present fraud is when criminals steal your card details to access your funds, obtain goods or sell to other fraudsters. It is 81% more likely than card-present fraud. There are several methods they use to do this, including phishing scams and malware. They can also use skimmer devices, which they fit to ATMs and card readers to collect information from the card’s magnetic strip.
The CVV code gives you additional protection, as the magnetic strip does not store this number. Industry regulations also prohibit the storage of CVV numbers on merchant websites. This means criminals cannot access them through data breaches.
Keeping your credit card details secure
You still need to remain vigilant to keep your card details safe from criminals. Some fraudsters will be able to collect your CVV number using malware. Even if they are unable to obtain this code, they may still be able to use your information to make card-not-present transactions, as some merchant websites do not require a CVV.
Ask if your issuer offers a virtual card service. These electronic cards randomly generate temporary details for you to input at the online checkout. They are linked to your credit account, and purchases will appear on your statement as normal. As the information is only valid for one transaction, they are useless to fraudsters.
When shopping online, look for “https://” at the start of the website’s URL or a padlock icon near the top of the browser. These are signs that a site is secure. Avoid using websites that do not request CVVs and utilize verified payment gateways, like Verified by Visa, where possible.
You can reduce your risk of falling victim to phishing scams by exercising caution with unsolicited emails or calls. Never provide your card details unless you can verify the request is from a trusted source.
It’s a good idea to use strong passwords that are unique to each site and regularly update these. Do not save your details on a website, especially if you are accessing it through a device that is not private. Also, consider using VPN technology to encrypt your data when connecting to public Wi-Fi.