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What is CVV – Card Verification Value Explained

You’ve probably filled your wallet with many interesting things. There might be photos of loved ones, some banknotes, and coins, and, of course, there are your debit and credit cards. Although small and thin, these little pieces of plastic contain a significant amount of information that you might not be aware of.

There’s not only the PAN number embossed on the front of the card but there’s also your name on it, the expiry date, and the CVV number, amongst others. If you’re wondering what is CVV and how does it serve you, then this post is for you!

What is a CVV?

Simply put, a Card Verification Value, also known as Card Security Code or CSC for short, CVV is a three or four-digit number that’s mostly found on the back of your debit or credit card next to the signature panel.

Although, some cards apart from Visa, Mastercard and others place it on the front of the card. If you’ve seen this number on your card, things might clear up a bit. 

But what is the purpose of this CVV number?

In short, you can use it for card-not-present transactions where you’re making a purchase over the phone or online. It was introduced in order to provide retailers and merchants additional proof that it’s actually you who is using your card, and not someone who might have stolen your information.

With so many numbers on such a small piece of plastic, it might be easy to get confused and think that the CVV number is your PIN or Personal Identification Number. But this is not the case. A PIN is usually four digits or longer and we use them for withdrawing cash from ATMs with debit cards or for cash advances with credit cards. 

In fact, while a PIN is usually user-created, CVVs are automatically generated by your card issuer and are then printed on the plastic. You as a card user have no control over your CVV number, as opposed to your PIN. What’s more, is that no two cards have the same one. This is an issue related to security. This means that even if your card expires and they issued you with a new one, your new card will have a brand new Card Verification Value on it even though your cards look the same. 

For security reasons, the CVV number is used to show merchants that it’s really you who’s using your card. Online portals, for example, may not store any information about a cardholder’s Card Verification Value number as this is against the PCI DSS rules. This means that even if you enter your card information on a payment gateway, and even if your card details are stored there, the CSC number never will be. This move makes it much harder for anyone to steal your personal details, identity, or funds.

9 ways to keep your CVV safe

You might think that since you have a Card Security Code, you’re safe from online hackers and any fraudulent activities. But we’d advise you to be careful out there. The world is full of malicious individuals who are after your funds and identity. Therefore, we recommend that you take some steps to protect yourself and your card’s CVV online. Here are some of them:

Install legitimate antivirus software on your PC

Such software will scan for viruses, keyboard-logging software, and other tools that fraudsters typically use to steal personal information. If you aren’t sure which software to use, better consult with specialists.

Protect your home’s Wi-Fi network with a password

This will prevent others from connecting to it, monitoring your internet traffic, and tracking your information. Also, consider using a VPN when you’re away from home to protect your personal information.  

Use a safe password manager

These tools can help you create and store your strong and unique passwords for each site used. This is an effective way of boosting your online security. One example of such a password manager is LastPass. 

Avoid autofill and saving your personal data on websites

It might seem more convenient but actually taking the time to type in your details afresh whenever you visit a new website or online merchant can be one way of protecting you from identity theft. It’s also crucial that you don’t save your data on sites that don’t ask you for a CVV. 

Ask your card issuer for a virtual credit card

This is a much safer option as the virtual credit card feature creates temporary account numbers that “mask” your actual card number. If hackers compromised your virtual number, you can easily dispose of it. 

Shop at secure websites

Check the beginning of the website’s URL and see if it starts with an https://. The “s” at the end of “HTTPS” stands for “secure”, which means your information will be encrypted. Also, check that there’s an SSL padlock in your browser window. 

Just got a suspicious email? Don’t click on its links!

This is also known as phishing where hackers try to gain your CVV by sending you an email that looks legitimate, but which actually leads you to a page they’ve created to steal your data. Whether the email contains a suspicious link or an attachment, always verify the source by contacting your bank or financial institution on an official phone number. 

Check your statements regularly

By monitoring your accounts and checking your statements regularly, you can see if there’s any odd activity on your card/s. This way, you can report it to your card issuer quickly for them to either put a freeze on the card or take other necessary actions. 

Never send your credit/debit card details in emails

Online fraudsters can scan your emails, looking for card numbers. So never send these details to anyone via email. Also, never post photos of your cards on social media. 

Conclusion

Now that you know what a CVV is, it’s important not to underestimate the strength of your card’s security code. It’s an essential layer of safety for your online or in-store shopping and you need to be extra careful whenever you use it. Use the tips mentioned above for keeping your CVC secure. And remember to stay safe online!

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the contents of this article and the myPOS Blog, in general, should not be interpreted as legal, monetary, tax, or any other kind of professional advice. You should always seek to consult with a professional before taking action, since the particulars of your situation may materially differ from other cases.

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