The security code, card verification or CVV number on the back of a credit card is an added security measure to protect against fraud. On a Visa credit or debit card, this code is three digits and it is located on the back of the card to the right of the signature line.
Security Code Purpose
When you make an online or over-the-phone purchase using a Visa debit or credit card, you have to provide your three-digit code along with the credit card number. Requiring this code lets the merchant verify that the person placing the order is actually in possession of the card. People who swipe card information from a document or an electronic database have a more difficult time getting the security code than they do the card number.
Additional Security Code Details
Visa, MasterCard and Discover all use three-digit security codes, while American Express uses a four-digit code with its cards. After merchants process a transaction, they cannot store the code, according to the Visa website. This requirement ensures that the code is needed for each separate purchase. If your Visa provider detects security concerns with your card and issues a new card, it comes with a new security code as well.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.