About Those 3-digit or 4-digit Security Codes

You know that you are supposed to ask for the three or four-digit code when taking an order by phone. Perhaps you skip that step when the client is a repeat client or if you personally know the purchaser. But skipping this small step will ultimately cost you more to process the card. The same holds true when you fail to enter the billing zip code and/or billing address. This increases the chance of fraud, so you pay more for bypassing the fraud-prevention systems.

What Are Those Numbers Called?

You have likely heard the code referred to as a CSC (Card Security Code), CVV (Card Verification Value), CVC (Card Verification Code) or simply, the security code. Which is correct? They all are. The codes are called different names by the card brands.

  • MasterCard – CVC2
  • Visa – CVV2
  • Amex – CSC

Where Are Those Numbers?

The three-digit codes are located on the back of MasterCard, Visa, and Discover cards. The four-digit security code used by American Express is on the front of the card.

What Are Those Numbers Used For?

The code offers an additional layer of verification that customers are in possession of the card they are using for payment. This is most important when you are accepting a card over the phone, online, or any other method where the card is not physically presented for verification with an ID.

It is possible to run transactions without using the code, and it might surprise you to know that a transaction might actually go through without a code or even with an incorrect code entered. This doesn’t help you as a merchant, but it can help cardholders prove it wasn’t them in the case of fraud, since the code would have been entered incorrectly during the transaction.

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