CVV Number: What? Why? How?

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May 16, 2023
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CVV Number: What? Why? How?

cvv number

Remember all the times you try to make an online purchase with your credit or debit card, the platform asks you to enter your card number, name, expiration date, along with a CVV number. Have you wondered what exactly is the purpose of the CVV number and how is it different from your pin?

In this article, we will explore all the ABCs of the CVV number, so keep reading to find all the answers to your queries.

What Exactly Is CVV?

CVV number is the abbreviation for Card Verification Value. It is a 3 or 4 digit number printed on the card to secure sensitive data during online transactions as well as verify if the current user of the credit or debit card is the actual owner of the card.

Since CVV is not printed on any receipts or statements, someone using the physical card can only know what it is.

CVV numbers are also called CSC numbers (“Card Security Code”) and CVV2 numbers, similar to CVV numbers but their second generation engendering method makes deducing them more difficult.

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How Is CVV Assigned?

The CVV is not just any random number, rather it’s generated by a complicated algorithm involving the card number, the card issuer’s unique key, and the expiration date. It has two parts- the magnetic strip with crucial data about your credit card, and the digits part.

How To Find The CVV?

It is generally printed as a 3-digit number at the back of the card for Visa, MasterCard, and Discover cards. For American Express cards, the CVV is a four-digit number in the front of the card.

Is The CVV Different From My Pin?

Yes, it is distinct and independent of your card number, PIN, or card expiration date. The PIN functions while making in-person transactions with the card or at ATMs. Whereas, the CVV is used in making online or telephonic transactions.

Why Is CVV Important?

Every card provider has a system to generate a unique CVV code, whose purpose is to establish the cardholder’s identity, and protect the card against theft and fraudulent activities.

Why Is CVV Used In Online Transactions Instead Of PIN?

CVV is used in place of PIN during online payment to verify the card’s authenticity, since PIN can only authorize transactions at a point of sale (POS) terminal. Online gateways don’t have a POS terminal, thus, CVV acts as a security to identify the actual owner of the card.

How Does CVV Protect You Against Fraud?

CVV acts as a second protection layer during online transactions. Virtual payment gateways are legally restricted from storing your CVV, so even if they have your card information, you are still safe. Since your CVV cannot be accessed from databases, in case your card details are compromised, the frauds still can’t use it without CVV.


Now that you know how the CVV protects you, it’s important to understand how to protect your CVV. You must never share your CVV with anyone, unless they are authorized with you. Avoid storing it in random, easy-to-find places or writing it down. Enter your CVV only on secure websites, and in case you suspect fraud, contact your card issuer immediately.

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