What is CVV, CVC, CV2?

One of the peculiarities of the credit card processing industry is the number of acronyms a person has to remember. The acronyms dealt with here are a case in point. CVV, CVC and CV2 refer to credit card security features. In brief, CVV stands for credit verification value, CVC stands for card verification code, and CV2 is a term that is often used interchangeably with CVV.

There are several types of CVCs, many of which you’ve probably seen (and used) on your credit cards all the time without knowing what they are. The specific acronyms used by three of the major credit card associations are:

  • CID — Mastercard’s card identification number: three non-embossed numbers that appear on the back side of the card.
  • CVC2 — Discover’s card verification value: three non-embossed numbers that appear on the back side of the card.
  • CVV2 – Visa’s card validation code: three non-embossed numbers that appear on the back side of the card.

American Express, the fourth major U.S. credit card association, displays a four-digit verification code on the front side of the card, also non-embossed. Even though the acronyms differ and formatting and location of the numbers vary slightly, the function of these codes is identical: to add another layer of authentication to the credit card transaction.

CVCs are helpful for fraud prevention, although far from foolproof. A number of phishing scams (scams where cardholders are tricked into submitting their CVCs) have been used to gain this information on a large scale. Furthermore, because CVCs are printed on the card, if a cardholder loses his/her card, carelessly disposes of an old card or has written down the code somewhere, the door is left wide open for theft. Finally, some card issuers do not issue CVCs, and merchants are not obligated to use them in the processing of transactions. All of this makes CVVs far from a universal, comprehensive method of fraud mitigation. Nevertheless, requiring them for online transactions in particular is an excellent step to reduce opportunities for fraudulent transactions.

If you shop online, you may have noticed that you always enter your CVC, even if your credit card information is stored on the e-commerce website. This is because merchants are not allowed to store CVCs in their databases. While some customers may regard re-entering the code as extra work, it is actually a small step intended to protect them. As a merchant, explaining this briefly somewhere in the shopping cart/checkout process may be helpful.

Merchants also help their customers protect their CVCs by educating them on simple but important techniques for guarding the information, including:

  • Shredding documents with CVVs imprinted on them.
  • Shredding old credit cards immediately after receiving replacements.
  • Requesting a new credit card immediately after one is lost or probably lost.
  • Always keeping credit cards hidden from view (in a purse or wallet, etc.).
  • Never loaning credit cards to friends, family or coworkers.

If you have more questions about CVCs, how to educate your customers or how to handle CVCs in a more user-friendly way in your checkout process, please contact us now.

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