What is a Credit Card CCV / CVC Number?

Information verified correct on September 27th, 2016

Learn about Credit Card CCV & CVC Numbers

When using your credit card, either on the Internet or by ordering something by telephone, it always seems as though you have a lot of numbers to either type in or give out. There is a long series of numbers (usually sixteen) that reflect the credit card’s account number, then there is an expiration date, and finally a sometimes difficult to find set of either three or four digits to provide.

These last numbers are called credit card CVC or credit card CCV numbers. They are meant as an added security measure, or credit card verification value which will hopefully protect your account from those who would misuse your credit by any means possible.

Security must never be lax

No one is safe from fraud and theft, and that is more certain than ever today. Credit information can be gathered in various ways including ‘dumpster diving’, or going through the rubbish of unsuspecting individuals. Whenever you throw your vital information into a public rubbish container without first shredding it thoroughly, it is an open invitation to steal from you.

Even your personal rubbish at home is subject to being vandalised by devious people who evidently have nothing better to do. Once they get the credit card’s account number all they used to have to do is enter it on the Internet, or by telephone to make purchases. If they enter the security codes now known as credit card CVC or credit card CCV they will be able to use your card.

These numbers are now required virtually anywhere you use your credit card or debit card and if thieves do not have the card in their possession they will not have access to that secure code.

What exactly is a CVV number?

The Card Verification Value Code or CVV is simply a means of authenticating your individual card as belonging to you. In combination with the personal account number and the expiration date, your card’s usage should be secured from fraudulent use.

This number is not necessary when using the card to make purchases in person, so if that card has been stolen it will still be vulnerable. This credit card CVV will never by part of the credit card’s account number but rather an individually selected set of numbers exclusive to your card and account.

This is part of a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) commonly used technology which is a digitally provided certification process. The SSL technology has been provided for quite some time on sites that allow online purchases and now applies to the purchaser’s individual card information as well.

Credit card issuers each have a name for this security code

The credit card CVC and credit card CCV numbers are each put to use by various credit card issuing companies, and they have their own individual name for the technology they use. MasterCard calls the code CVC2, American Express refers to it as CID, Discover calls their code CID2, and Visa has dubbed it CVV2 but they are all basically the same credit card verification value which is a standardised security measure intended to protect their customers, and themselves from fraud and theft by credit card.

Debit cards issued by banks have the same security measure in place, providing a means of additionally protecting the card holder. These CVV1 or CVC1 numbers are found near the magnetic strip in the area designated for the card holder’s signature and encoded to provide security for in person transactions. In the case of ‘contactless’ cards there is generally a chip involved which supplies its own electronically generated series of codes. They are called Dynamic CVV or iCVV.

Security codes are not the same as your pin number

Using a credit card or debit card to make transactions either in person, on the Internet, or by telephone is a convenience that we all appreciate from time to time. The ability to take advantage of sales when we don’t have enough cash at the time can be looked on as saving money, as long as the balance is paid off before interest accrues.

Generally in order to pay with a credit card we must sign for our purchases and when paying with a debit card there is a ‘PIN’ or personal identification number that must be applied. These are forms of security and do provide some but there can never be enough when it comes to those who would use our financial information fraudulently.

The addition of credit card CVC and credit card CCV numbers does help by making it more difficult to steal our information.

There is little defence against phishing scams

Purchasing on the Internet can be risky at times, particularly when your valuable credit card information is obtained through phishing scammers. Cardholders can be tricked into supplying their secure credit card verification value number along with the credit card’s number, and date of expiration on bogus sites or non secured sites where we may shop.

We must be vigilant when choosing a shopping web site by verifying that it is valid, and that the site is secured. Although secure, some sites have been ‘hacked’ into by someone who knows how to get into their database, and promptly taking advantage of that information.

Just like identity theft, this form of illegal activity is on the rise and hard to track down. The cost of credit card fraud has risen steadily over the past decade, making each valid transaction cost that much more for each of us. There was an estimated£535 million in fraudulent charges made in the United Kingdom when last tallied in 2006.

Application fraud and skimming are costly to each of us

Criminals can always find ways to deceive and application fraud is one method whereby they steal documents such as bank statements or utility bills, and take advantage of the info they provide to build an informational file which they then use to make counterfeit documents. Skimming is usually found to be an ‘inside job’ committed by dishonest employees working for legitimate business owners.

They obtain credit card info, including those credit card CVC and credit card CCV numbers, then use them for their own purposes or to resell the information to yet more unscrupulous people.

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20 Responses to What is a Credit Card CCV / CVC Number?

  1. Default Gravatar
    Annoyed&confused | May 7, 2016

    I have an online account to download games. My credit/debit card expired. I did not update my details and assumed that the company would not be able to access my funds anymore. I had free credits which I can’t use because I use an iPad now and it redirects me to the App Store and it requests payment with no option to use the credits I paid for. Which is why I did not shut down the account. I don’t get notified in my debit account about credit card payments and I can’t add my other card to the ANZ app and my money hasn’t been adding up. I have a new card and CVV is a new one also and there is no expiry date on my file with this company.

    Why is someone able to take money from my credit card with invalid information and no CVV? It’s added up to around $100ish that should have been rejected. I am contacting the company in question also. It seems fraudulent to me. I thought that these were the security measures taken to ensure my online security.


    • Staff
      May | May 11, 2016

      Hi Annoyed&confused,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      Unfortunately, especially these days, whether we do a transaction in person or online using our debit/credit cards, we can’t really say that we are 100% safe from fraud and theft. Yes, you are correct, your card’s CVV should or hopefully protect your account from those who would misuse your credit by any means possible. So it is important that we are vigilant and extra careful whenever we use our card or enter our account and security number to make any transaction.

      For any transaction on your account that you deemed fraudulent, it is a better idea to report them to your card company/bank so they could do necessary action on how to protect your account.


  2. Default Gravatar
    Joh | March 22, 2016

    Do I have to give a company my CV number if they are crediting my account with a refund? I say no and wont do it but a few places have said they need it and i have refused. Help please

    • Staff
      Sharon | March 23, 2016

      Hi Joh, thanks for your inquiry.

      Even though the CCV number can be given through the phone/entered in a form, if it does not have a field to enter the number, it is recommended only to provide these details if the merchant is certified and trusted. If the CCV number is given to the wrong parties the card may be used fraudulently.



  3. Default Gravatar
    graham | March 22, 2016

    I was checking out overseas hotel online and filled out booking details, including credit card number. I did not give expiry date or ccv , nor did i hit the highlighted reserve block, I decided hotel , for several reasons, was not best choice. As I had not completed the booking, I just exited the site , without deleting the card number. Hotel went ahead and charged my Visa with no cancellation policy. Is this allowed????

    • Staff
      Sally | March 31, 2016

      Hi Graham,

      Without knowing which hotel you were with and their policy, it’s hard to confirm whether you have a case to contest this.

      Instead, it might be best to get in touch with the hotel again and your credit card issuer to see what your options are. If you hadn’t confirmed the booking, hopefully you can receive a refund.



  4. Default Gravatar
    issac | March 9, 2016

    I have a save card for my account but I don’t know my cvv or CVC,where is it located on my card,i.e, the normal Westpac saving card?

    • Staff
      Ysa | March 9, 2016

      Hi Isaac,

      Thanks for your question.
      If your card is issued by Visa or MasterCard, you’ll find the three-digit security code (usually printed on the signature panel) on the back of the card, immediately after the card number.

      However, if your card does not have the CVV number, it would be best to speak directly with your card issuer.

      I hope this helps.


  5. Default Gravatar
    Jay | September 24, 2015

    Hi there

    I am concerned by the growing number of businesses that request your CCV when filling in a form.

    My understanding is the CCV is extra security to prevent fraud and that by writing it down with your credit card numbers you are enabling fraud to occur.

    I’m particularly referring to restaurants or hire places tat record your details then likely have it on a hard copy form or keep it in their (most likely unsecure) database.

    I usually refuse to provide it and try to educate merchants that the CCV is only required to verify internet transactions and is not to be recorded separately especially not on a piece of paper!

    Am I right? If so, we need to do a better job educating merchants – banks in particular need to clarify the situation.


    • Staff
      Jonathan | September 25, 2015

      Hi Jay, thanks for your inquiry!

      Credit card issuers and banks have fraud protection policies that cover you in such instances when your credit card details have been misused. It is ideal to be well versed across the fraud protection that your credit issuer offers to know what action to take and exactly what you are covered for.



  6. Default Gravatar
    Tara | August 21, 2015

    I have a freedom card (debit card) and I don’t know where the ccv number is and it’s not on the back?

    • Staff
      Sally | August 21, 2015

      Hi Tara,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      If your debit card doesn’t have the CVV number on the back of it, you’ll need to contact the bank directly.



  7. Default Gravatar
    What | February 24, 2015

    I filled out an order form with card details. Never had boxes for ccv Number. Then I get a phone call from them asking for my ccv Number? Have never had to give for other Payments. Though they are ordering a product for us this time. Feel uncomfortable about giving it? What should I do?

    • Staff
      Jonathan | February 25, 2015

      Hi, thanks for your inquiry!

      Even though the CCV number can be entered through the phone if the website does not have a field to enter the number, it is recommended only to provide these details if the merchant is certified and trusted. If the CCV number is given to the wrong parties the card may be used fraudulently.



  8. Default Gravatar
    Sherra | February 19, 2015

    The CVC number is always asked when making online purchases. Does it mean that without giving your CVC number the card will not be charged? I have made a hotel reservation that allows me to do the booking and pay during my stay but i still have to give my credit card details without the CVC. Thanks.

    • Staff
      Jonathan | February 19, 2015

      Hi Sherra, thanks for your inquiry!

      A CVC is a security measure for your credit card, both numbers (credit card number and CVC) are required for online purchases.



  9. Default Gravatar
    James | February 5, 2015

    Make me a CVC code number I want it to be XXXX

    • Staff
      Jonathan | February 5, 2015

      Hi James, thanks for your inquiry.

      Generally most credit cards which are enabled with online purchasing and EFTPOS transactions come with a CVC. If your card has not come with a CVC number you will have to request a new card from your bank. Please refer to this page for more information on CVC numbers.



  10. Default Gravatar
    jing | October 10, 2013

    Where to find CCV number on visa card?

    • Staff
      Jacob | October 10, 2013

      Hi Jing.

      Thanks for your question. The CCV number is a three number combination that can be found on the back of the card.

      I hope this helps.

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