What is the Credit Card CVV Number? and where did you find the Security Code?

At a glance

Your card's CVV - card verification value - adds extra security when you make a card-not-present transaction. This is a 3 or 4 digit code that is usually found on the front or back of your card.

You buy new shoes online.

Or order flowers for your mother by telephone.

And suddenly you are asked for "CVV" or your card's security code.

Hah? What is the credit card CVV number? And where can you find it?

How do you find your credit card CVV?

CVV stands for "card verification value," and serves as an additional security feature when you make a "card-not-present" purchase - such as via the internet or telephone.

This is also called a card security code (CSC), CVV2, or CVC2, and appears on credit and debit cards.

Here's where to find your credit card CVV:

The Visa, Mastercard and Discover security codes are three digits. It appears on the back of your card, to the right of the signature panel. Previously, you might have seen some or all of your credit card account numbers.
The American Express security code (also called the card identification number, or CID) is four digits. It appears on the front of your card, at the top right of your account number.

Why Does a Credit Card Have a CVV Code?

Your CVV acts as a security measure for card-not-present transactions. Because online merchants cannot check your signature, many ask for your CVV code to verify that you are the rightful credit card owner.

So, even if the thief steals your credit card account number with a skimmer, he will be out of luck on a website that requires a CVV for purchases. CVV is not stored in a magnetic strip on the back of the card - it is designed to show card ownership.

The CVV code also helps protect you in the event of a data breach. That's because industry regulations prohibit traders from storing CVV codes. So, although you can store card numbers and personal information on the merchant's website, you usually have to type your CVV every time you make a purchase.

That said, not all sites need a CVV code. And some sites only ask for your CVV the first time you order goods at a certain address - and then assume the next transaction is legitimate.

How Can You Keep Your Credit Card Number Safe?

While the CVV code might sound like an excuse to lift your foot, you still need to be vigilant when it comes to the security of your card. Remember that not all merchants ask for a CVV code - and even if they do, scammers potentially use malware to retrieve your code during virtual transactions.

To stay safe when shopping online, we recommend the following precautions:

Register for a password manager: LastPass is a free program that creates and stores unique and powerful passwords for each site. A simple - but often overlooked - way to improve your online security.
Avoid storing your personal data on the retailer's website: Sure, it's convenient, but dealing with identity theft is certainly not. So, take an extra 30 seconds to issue your credit card each time you make a purchase. (And never store your data on sites that don't ask for CVV.)
Use a "virtual credit card": Ask your credit card issuer if it offers a virtual credit card. This feature creates a temporary account number that covers your actual card number, allowing you to easily dispose of virtual numbers if compromised.

Only shop on secure websites: Before shopping online, make sure the website starts with "https: //" - "s" at the end of the abbreviation for secure, and means your information will be encrypted.
Don't click on links in suspicious emails: One way for phishers to get your CVV is by sending emails that look legitimate. This might require you to call a phone number or click a link, and then enter your credit card information. Be aware of these emails (general warning signs including spelling or typographical errors), and only share your information if you have contacted your bank or retailer via e-mail or published number.
Monitor your account: Check your report for suspicious activity, and check your credit report regularly too. If your card is lost or stolen, immediately call your credit card issuer to freeze your account and request a new card.

When Used Wisely, Credit Cards Are A Good Tool
Because credit cards come with more protection than debit cards, we recommend using them for card-not-present transactions (cough, that your Xbox has observed Amazon, cough).

But, even though the best credit cards have many security features, they are not perfect. Do your best to prevent fraud, but remember to check your account and report occasionally.