Security codes are found on various types of credit cards, including Visa cards, and provide proof that the card is in the right hands. These codes should not be confused with the standard Visa card number, a card's PIN, or password. The number provides security to the Visa card owner.
Visa Security Code
The Visa security code, or Card Verification Value (CVV2), is comprised of three digits. This number is not embossed, as the actually card number is. MasterCard, Diners Club, JCB and Discover cards also have a three-digit card security code. The codes, however, have different names than the security code for the Visa card.
The Visa CVV2 code is located next to the signature bar on the back of the card. Some Visa cards found in North America feature the code on a separate panel, but still right next to the signature strip on the back. Other numerals might be seen, but only the last three digits are the CVV2 code.
The security code found on the back of the card next to the signature strip lets merchants know the card is present at the time of purchase in online or phone transactions. This number is another layer of protection implemented to prevent potential card fraud. Without a Visa security code, an account number alone will not allow online or phone purchases to be completed. Merchants are prohibited to store this number by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
Face to Face Transactions
Security codes ensure that even if someone has your credit card account number, they still cannot use the card to make purchases without the security code or actual card itself. The CVV2 is normally not included in face to face transactions, though some merchants in North America, such as Staples and Sears, do require the code.
Chris Newton has worked as a professional writer since 2001. He spent two years writing software specifications then spent three years as a technical writer for Microsoft before turning to copywriting for software and e-commerce companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of Colorado.