CCVs, CVCs and CVVs on credit cards: What are they?

If you’ve ever picked up a credit card, you might have seen CCV, CVC or CVV on the back. But what do these codes mean, how are they different from one another and how do they keep your credit card safe?

What are CCVs?

A CCV, which stands for Card Code Verification, is a security code printed onto your credit card that helps keep it safe from fraud. When shopping online, you’ll typically be asked to provide your CVC or CVV number as well as your name and credit card number.

Depending on who issued your card, the code may differ:

  • CVCs. A CVC is a three-digit number on the back of credit cards used by Visa and Mastercard credit cards. You’ll find it on the right next to the signature box.
  • CVVs. Used by American Express (Amex), a CVV number is a four-digit code on the front of your credit card. You can find it on the right-hand side above your credit card number.

What do Card Code Verification (CCV) numbers do?

CCV codes add another level of security when you’re not required to enter your card’s PIN or provide a signature. Essentially, it makes it harder for thieves, hackers and fraudsters to steal your credit card information, as they will need the physical card to find out what your code is.

However, nothing is perfectly secure and it’s important to stay vigilant when using your card, both in-store and online. If you lose your card, or if someone steals it, contact your credit card provider immediately.

Frequently asked questions

Are CCVs different to my PIN?

Your CCV is different from your PIN. Your CCV, whether it’s a CVC or CVV, is used when shopping online or over the phone to prove that you’re the owner of the card and have it with you. When using an ATM or purchasing a product in-store, you are there physically with your card and aren’t required to provide your credit card’s security code; just your PIN when using a physical card reader, depending on the value of the transaction.

With contactless payment technology like Visa’s payWave or Mastarcard’s PayPass, you typically don’t need to provide a pin on purchases under $100.

Do debit cards have CCVs on them?

Yes, debit cards will have a CCV if they’re a Mastercard or Visa, or a CVV number if the card is issued by American Express. This is because they can also be used when shopping online, as well as in-store.

Can I change my CCV number?

In most cases, you can’t change your CCV without receiving a new card. You might receive a new credit card if your current one expires or is damaged, lost or stolen. Keep in mind you may have to pay a fee to replace your card.

Some credit cards use new technology where the CCV is on a screen on the back of the card and changes every hour (some change every 30 or 40 minutes), making it even more secure against someone stealing your card details.

Are there any other names for CCVs?

Different banks and financial institutions that issue credit and debit cards may have other names for CCVs:

  • CID (Card identification number) and CID2
  • CVC2
  • CVV2
  • iCVV or Dynamic CVV

Regardless of what they’re called, you’ll find these security codes on the front or the back of your card depending on whether it’s a Mastercard, Visa or American Express.

What are second-generation CCVs?

A second generation CCV, which might be called CVC2, CVV2 or CID2, refers to codes which are reportedly harder to guess, but otherwise, second-generation CCVs function in the same way as regular CCVs.

Are CVCs and CVVs secure?

When you provide a CVC or CVV code through a reputable, secure site, the data is sent to the store so your card will be approved through an encrypted data connection known as a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS).

These encryptions provide a unique code-protected segment of data between you and the online shop that has the information necessary to complete the transaction without compromising your information.

Tips for keeping your card details safe

It is possible that an online store you use isn’t secure and your details could be ‘skimmed’ or stolen to be used later, or sold on the dark web.

There are ways you can protect yourself when using a credit or debit card online:

  • Shop online from reputable websites with a padlock icon in front of the URL. This denotes that the site is secure.
  • Never share your PIN, password, card details or personal details online or with strangers.
  • Avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi networks, which could be vulnerable to hacking.
  • Install anti-virus and computer security programs from reputable companies. Hackers may try and install a key-logging program to record what you type so they can steal credit card details.
  • Be sceptical of links in emails, especially if it’s in your spam folder or marked as a potential scam. They may contain a virus that will hack into your computer.

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