552 what is the 3 digit code on a credit card called

What is the 3 Digit Code on a Credit Card Called?

The 3-digit code on the back of most credit cards is an important security feature called the Card Verification Value (CVV). This number, also known as the Card Security Code (CSC), helps protect against credit card fraud and unauthorized transactions. Understanding what the CVV is, where to find it, and how it works can help you safeguard your financial information and shop more securely online.

What is a CVV Number?

Definition of CVV

CVV stands for “Card Verification Value.” It is a 3- or 4-digit security code printed on credit and debit cards. The purpose of the CVV is to provide an additional layer of protection against fraud, especially for online or phone transactions where the physical card is not present.

The CVV is different from your PIN (Personal Identification Number), which is used for in-person transactions at ATMs or point-of-sale terminals. While your PIN is confidential and should be memorized, the CVV is printed directly on your card.

Purpose of the CVV Number

The primary purpose of the CVV is to verify that you have physical possession of the card when making a purchase online or by phone. By providing this code, you prove to the merchant that you are the rightful owner of the card, reducing the risk of unauthorized transactions.

When you enter your CVV during an online transaction, the retailer sends it to the card issuer for verification. If the code matches what is on file, the transaction can proceed. This extra step helps prevent fraudsters from using stolen card numbers without having the actual card in hand.

Where to Find the CVV Number

Location on Credit Cards

For most credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, and Discover, the CVV is a 3-digit number printed on the back of the card. It typically appears to the right of the signature strip, after the last four digits of your card number.

Here is an example of what it might look like:

1234 5678 9012 3456

Location on American Express Cards

American Express (Amex) cards are a bit different. The CVV on an Amex card is a 4-digit number printed on the front of the card, just above and to the right of the main card number.

1234 567890 12345

How CVV Numbers Work

CVV Use in Online Transactions

When you make an online purchase, you typically need to provide several pieces of information from your credit card:

  • The card number
  • The expiration date
  • The CVV number
  • The name on the card

The retailer then sends this data to the card network for verification and approval. The CVV provides an extra check to ensure the person making the purchase has the physical card. This helps protect both you and the merchant from fraudulent transactions.

Difference Between CVV and PIN

While both CVV and PIN codes are security features, they serve different purposes. A PIN is used to verify your identity for in-person transactions, such as at an ATM or a store’s point-of-sale terminal. You enter your PIN secretly to authorize the transaction.

In contrast, the CVV is printed on the card and used primarily for online or phone transactions when the physical card is not present. It provides an additional layer of security to confirm you possess the card, protecting against unauthorized use of stolen card numbers.

Protecting Your CVV Number

When Not to Share Your CVV

As a general rule, you should never share your CVV unless you have initiated a transaction with a trusted merchant. Some important guidelines:

  • Do not provide your CVV in response to unsolicited emails or phone calls.
  • Be cautious of unsecured websites. Look for “https” in the URL and a lock icon before entering card info.
  • Do not give your CVV to a merchant for in-person transactions. They should never need it if you have the physical card.

Credit Card vs. Debit Card Fraud Protection

While both credit and debit cards have CVV codes, they do not offer the same level of fraud protection. In general, credit cards provide better safeguards against unauthorized transactions.

With a credit card, your liability for fraudulent charges is limited to $50 under federal law. Many issuers even offer zero liability policies. Debit cards, on the other hand, have fewer legal protections and fraudulent transactions directly drain money from your bank account.

Monitoring for Unauthorized Transactions

In addition to safeguarding your CVV and other card information, regularly monitoring your accounts can help you catch and report fraudulent activity quickly. Some steps to take:

  • Review your credit card and bank statements monthly for unfamiliar transactions.
  • Set up alerts with your card issuer to notify you of purchases over a certain amount.
  • Check your credit reports annually for signs of identity theft or unauthorized accounts.

By understanding how CVV numbers work and taking steps to protect your information, you can shop more securely and reduce the risk of falling victim to credit card fraud.

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