When you shop online using your phone or computer, the vendors or online stores usually ask you to provide your credit card’s CVN number. A card verification number (CVN) is a number you’ve probably input hundreds of times, but do you know what it is, and why most retailers ask for it?
In this post, we will explain what the card verification value on the back of your Visa, MasterCard, or American Express means, and how it secures your online purchases from fraud.
What is a card verification number (CVN)?
A card verification number is a 3-digit or 4-digit code on your credit card that’s in addition to your card number and expiration date. However, it’s different from your security PIN. The code is visible and printed on the front or back by all major issuers.
For MasterCard and Visa users, the CVN is or CVV is usually printed on the signature or right above the signature panel. For American Express cards, the 4- digit CVV or CVV is printed separately on the front right above the card number. The essential purpose of the number is to ensure that the user has physical access to the card while making online transactions.
What does a card verification number look like?
There are three types of card verification values: 3 digits, 4 digits, and 5 digits. The first digit indicates what type of card you have. A 3 digit number is for Visa and MasterCard cards, while a 4 digit number indicates an American Express card. The second two digits indicate what type of card the verification code belongs to. For example, if your code has 1234 at the end, this is what types of cards it can be used on:
The first three digits of CVNs have specific meanings.
The first digit tells what type of card the code is used for: 3 – Visa or MasterCard, 4 – Amex, 5 – Discover, 6 = Diners Club cards and 7 = JCB cards.
The next two digits define what type of card your verification number belongs to e.g., a 1234 number is used for all Visa cards, while a 3456 number is used for all Diners Club cards.
CVN vs. CVV: What’s the difference?
If it’s CVV then this means Card Validation Code, whereas CVN means Card Verification Number. Basically what it does is add an extra confirmation step when a person makes an online purchase and usually requires supplying both credit card details and additional authentication information (during checkout). If someone were ever able to steal your wallet then they would not be able to use them online without knowing what the CVN is.
How the card verification number protects users from fraud and scams
All banks and financial institutions that offer credit cards provide a unique CVV code to complete monetary transactions using the card on virtual payment gateways. These portals can’t legally save the CVN number as per the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. Therefore, even if retailers or vendors have your card number and other details, they cannot access the CVV. This means that it’s nearly impossible for any individual or business to misuse your card information.
These 3 or 4-digit number codes add another security layer for identity theft protection and unauthorized transactions. This means that even if hackers find their way into a merchant’s system and get access to your credit card number, they still can’t use it for any transactions without the mandatory code. Moreover, most vendors only ask you to provide the CVN for your first purchase to verify your identity.
How do hackers get CVNs anyway?
Hackers get CVNs by exploiting the vulnerabilities present in the credit card companies’ systems. For example, hackers can break into a payment gateway and gain access to thousands of card numbers without revealing what they’ve taken.
The next step is determining what CVN satisfies what type of bank cards, as there are usually different codes for Visa (the most popular brand), MasterCard, Diners Club, and American Express; before redirecting potential charges to their own account or sell them on other black market websites.
Once that process is over, it’s only a matter of time until someone like you picks up one of these stolen cards and input your CVN at checkout – which now belongs to hackers.
Some additional tips on keeping your CVN and credit card number safe
Here are a few ways to keep your CVN and credit card number safe:
- Make sure you have physical access to the card while making online transactions. You can do this by using a service like Google Wallet or PayPal for in-app purchases on mobile apps without having to enter your card details.
- Use only reputable apps when downloading applications as some apps may ask for too much information, including what’s on your cards. Avoid anything that charges money without any disclosures first!
- If you’re buying expensive items like electronics, try paying for them in cash instead of using the card. When it comes to spending money, just use what’s necessary and what you have; don’t spend more than what you earn!
- Go over your credit card statement regularly to check for any activity you don’t recognize. If what’s there isn’t what you expected, it would be best to report this to the bank as soon as possible with a detailed explanation.
- Get rid of old cards that are no longer in use! These accounts can still appear on your statements and may be flagged by automated fraud action systems still in use by banks. If you can’t remember what it’s for, consider getting rid of it to avoid any future trouble.
Remember, if what you’re buying is more expensive than what you spend on a daily basis (or what your credit limit allows) then we would recommend paying for the product using cash. It may seem a little bit more complicated this way, but you’ll be sure that what you’re buying is what’s on your card!
The bottom line
All credit cards now have CVNs on the front or back of them to mitigate the risk of online fraud or scams by adding another security layer. However, it does not guarantee 100% protection since hackers can use phishing or malicious software to obtain it. Therefore, it’s wise to use best practices when shopping online to prevent unauthorized transactions.