What Is a CVV Number?

Your credit card’s CVV number can help protect you from credit card fraud when you use your card online or over the phone


Your credit card’s card verification value number—better known as a CVV or a CVV2—is a three- or four-digit security code on your card. It’s also sometimes referred to as a card security code (CSC), card verification code (CVC or CVC2), or card identification number (CID). But no matter what it’s called, its job is the same: to help protect you from credit card fraud.

Read on to learn about where you can find your CVV number, why your CVV number is important and more.

Where to Find Your CVV Number

Like your credit card number and expiration date, your CVV number appears directly on your card. But where exactly is it?

It’s often a three-digit number on the back of your card—typically on the right-hand side. And if your card has an authorized signature box, your CVV number will usually appear to the right of it.

But keep in mind that your CVV isn’t always a three-digit number. And it isn’t always on the back of your card. Some issuers use a four-digit number that appears on the front of the card instead.

What’s the Difference Between a CVV and a CVV2?

Remember: You may also see a CVV referred to as a CVV2. But they’re essentially the same thing. The “2” just means it’s a second-generation CVV number that was designed to be harder for a fraudster to guess.

CVV Numbers vs. PINs

It’s important to keep in mind that your CVV number and your personal identification number (PIN) aren’t the same. So what’s the difference?

Unlike your CVV, your PIN is used to help verify your identity when you use your card in person—like when you use your debit card at a store or an ATM. And while PINs are often associated with debit cards, you may have one—or be able to request one—for your credit card. A credit card PIN may be necessary for credit card cash advances.

The Importance of CVV Numbers

Your CVV number helps protect you from credit card fraud and verify your identity when you don’t have a PIN or when your PIN can’t be used—like when you use your card online or over the phone.

Remember: Your CVV appears directly on your card. So if you’re asked for your CVV when you use your card online or over the phone, it’s to help ensure that you—the cardholder—are actually the one who’s using the card.

Even if someone gets access to your credit card number, they might not be able to use the card online or over the phone without the CVV. And that can help protect you from fraudulent charges.

Other Ways to Help Protect Yourself From Credit Card Fraud

Your CVV and PIN are just a couple of things that help protect you from credit card fraud.

The Federal Trade Commission also recommends following these best practices:

  • Unless you’re sure the caller is who they say they are, don’t give your account information over the phone. And if you’re not sure, ask to call them back—it can give you some time to check.
  • Don’t lend your card to anyone.
  • If a transaction requires you to hand over your card, watch for any suspicious behavior.
  • Save your receipts to compare them with your monthly statement.
  • When it’s time to get rid of old cards, statements and receipts, make sure you shred them.

You should also be on the lookout for phishing scams that ask you to:

  • Click links.
  • Open attachments.
  • Send money.
  • Share personal information.

Capital One also has a number of credit card security features—like fraud alerts and instant purchase notifications—that can help you detect fraud in the first place. If you’re a Capital One cardholder, you can access and enable security features through the Capital One Mobile app or by signing in to your account online.

Monitor Your Credit for Free With CreditWise From Capital One

Another way you can help protect yourself from credit card fraud: Regularly monitor your credit. It could help you catch signs of fraud like:

  • Changes to your credit reports that you didn’t authorize—like new accounts or addresses that aren’t yours.
  • Big drops in your credit scores that you can’t explain.

With CreditWise from Capital One, you can access your free TransUnion® credit report and weekly VantageScore® 3.0 credit score anytime—without hurting your score. CreditWise is free and available to everyone—even if you’re not a Capital One customer.

You can also get free copies of your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus—Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion. Call 877-322-8228 or visit AnnualCreditReport.com to learn more. Keep in mind that there may be a limit on how often you can get your reports. You can check the site for more details.


Learn more about Capital One’s response to COVID-19 and resources available to customers. For information about COVID-19, head over to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Government and private relief efforts vary by location and may have changed since this article was published. Consult a financial adviser or the relevant government agencies and private lenders for the most current information.

We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many credit scoring models. It may not be the same model your lender uses, but it is an accurate measure of your credit health. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Some monitoring and alerts may not be available to you if the information you enter at enrollment does not match the information in your credit file at (or you do not have a file at) one or more consumer reporting agencies.

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