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When shopping online, you want to do everything you can to keep your personal and financial information safe. This is where the CVV on your debit card comes in.
A CVV, also known as a security code, acts as an added protection to prevent fraudulent transactions. This article explains what a CVV code is, how it works, and where you can find it on your debit card.
What is the CVV on a debit card?
A CVV (card verification value) is a three or four-digit number found on most debit cards and credit cards. The length of a CVV depends on the type of debit card you have. Visa, Mastercard, and Discover use a three-digit CVV, and American Express uses a four-digit CVV number.
The purpose of a CVV is to protect your debit card from theft and fraud. When making a purchase online or over the phone, merchants will typically ask for your CVV to confirm you have the card with you. If you buy something in-store, the seller should not ask you to provide your CVV, as this information transfers automatically when you swipe, insert, or tap your card.
Different card issuers refer to the CVV using various names, including:
- Card Security Code (CSC)
- Card Verification Number (CVN)
- Card Verification Data (CVD)
- Card Identification Number (CIN)
How does the CVV work?
A CVV code helps prevent unauthorized transactions from occurring in card-not-present (CNP) transactions. For instance, using your debit card to pay for something online, by mail, or by phone. By requesting the CVV code in a CNP situation, merchants can feel more confident that you have the physical debit card in your possession.
While merchants can store cardholder data like your name and card number, the PCI Data Security Standards Council prohibits the storage of CVV data.2 This means a merchant can ask for your CVV to authorize your transaction but must delete it once the transaction is complete.
If someone hacks into a retailer’s system, they can steal your credit card number, but they won’t have access to your CVV. This safeguard makes it more difficult for them to use your card to make fraudulent purchases online.
If you’re looking for your CVV, you can usually find it on the back of your debit card on the right-hand side of the signature strip. Some debit cards, including American Express, print the CVV on the front side of the card above the American Express logo.
Different types of CVVs
There are two types of CVVs.
- Magnetic stripe. Your CVV is encoded in the magnetic stripe or the little chip on your debit card. When you buy something in-store, your CVV information is automatically shared.
- Number on card. For card-not-present transactions over the phone or online, you can use the three or four-digit number on the back or front of your debit card. You will have to provide this information each time you make an online or phone purchase since merchants are not allowed to store CVVs.
Some banks are now using dynamic CVVs. This is a card verification code that continuously changes – there is no CVV printed on the card. Instead, you can request a text message or email with a new CVV when you want to make a purchase.
Alternatively, some cards have a small electronic screen on the back that displays the changing code. Like a regular CVV, the purpose is to make fraudulent purchases on a credit card or debit card more difficult.
How to keep your CVV safe
To keep your debit card safe and avoid common scams, you need to protect your information, including your card number, expiration date, and CVV. To keep your data secure, consider the following strategies:
- Review your bank statements regularly. Make a habit of checking your online bank statements regularly to scan for any unauthorized charges or withdrawals. If you notice something unusual, report it to your bank immediately.
- Don’t share your debit card details. Avoid sharing pictures or details of your debit card on social media, over text, or by email.
- Always use a secure Wi-Fi network. Don’t share personal or banking information when using public or non-secure networks.
- Password-protect your computer and mobile devices. Always password-protect your network to ensure no one can access your Wi-Fi network at home. Also, password-protect your computer, phone, or tablet to ensure no one can open it if it is lost or stolen.
- Only make purchases on secure websites. Only use websites that use “https” addresses versus “http” addresses. The extra “s” included in “https” addresses stands for secure.
- Use trusted sites. Choose online retailers that you trust. If you’ve never heard of a site, research it before sharing personal or debit card information.
- Install anti-virus software. You can install anti-virus software on your computer and mobile devices to scan for viruses and protect your information.
How do I find my CVV number on my debit card?
The location of the CVV on your debit card depends on the type of debit card you have. Typically a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover debit card displays the CVV on the back of the card to the right of the signature strip. If you have an American Express debit card, you can find the CVV on the front of the card above the American Express logo.
Is CVV 3 digits or 4?
There are 3-digit and 4-digit CVV numbers. The length of your CVV number can vary based on your debit card issuer. Visa and Mastercard debit cards typically use 3-digit CVV numbers, and American Express uses a 4-digit CVV.
Is it safe to give a debit card number and CVV?
If you buy something in-person, you should never provide your CVV number. There is no need for a merchant to ask for this information, as your CVV is automatically shared when you scan, insert or tap your debit card on the payment terminal.
When shopping online or over the phone, your CVV is often required to complete the purchase. To keep your information safe, you should only provide your CVV when using a reputable website. Remember, merchants are not allowed to save your CVV number, so you must enter it each time you make a purchase online.
An extra layer of security for online purchases
A CVV, also known as a security code, acts as an extra layer of security on your debit or credit card. When online merchants ask for your CVV to complete a transaction, this helps confirm that you have the physical card in your possession and acts as a safeguard against theft and fraud.
While Chime has built-in security features like two-factor authentication, learn how to avoid scams that target Chime members to stay ahead of would-be scammers.