For online shopping, the answer is generally yes — with a few caveats. Recall that the credit card security code, also known as the card verification value (or CVV) is the 3-4 digit code usually found on the back of your credit card. The intended purpose of the CVV is to provide an added layer of security when making purchases over the internet — it helps to verify that you're in possession of the card, because the code shouldn't be known to anyone other than you, the card holder. It’s essentially a way of counteracting credit card fraud.

So when shopping online, it is safe to input your CVV — but you should stick to well-known, reputable companies and websites. You'll find that most online retailers nowadays do require a CVV for purchases, which is encouraging, because it means that they're actively trying to prevent fraudulent transactions occurring on their site.

You should also make sure you’re using antivirus software such as AVG AntiVirus FREE to protect yourself while shopping online. It not only guards your devices against malware, but also blocks unsafe links, downloads, and email attachments so you won’t get caught in a credit card scam.

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Your CVV proves that you are the legitimate credit card holder when making a purchase.What about giving out my CVV offline?

You may also be asked for your credit card security code when processing a payment over the telephone. As with online transactions, it's usually safe to do this — you just need to be sure that no one overhears the details you give out (so avoid public places when doing this).

On the other hand, when purchasing an item or service in person, you should never provide the details of your CVV. In fact, there's no need for the retailer or service provider to request this. The CVV doesn't show up when the card is scanned normally, and, should they need to, retailers and service providers have other ways of verifying that you're the authorised card holder — for example, a signature or another form of identification.

Handing over your CVV for purchases completed offline serves no purpose other than providing someone with the opportunity to steal the information. Because if they were to do this, they'd have everything they need to go ahead and make a bunch of fraudulent online transactions.

Tips for staying safe

To avoid any issues with security or credit card fraud, there are a few things you can do:

  • Complete online purchases only with reputable websites that you trust. And when you do, follow our seven golden rules for safe online shopping.
  • Install strong cybersecurity software, such as AVG AntiVirus FREE, on your PC, tablet and smartphone. Doing this will help you steer clear of malware and phishing messages that could lead you to fake websites designed to steal your personal details.
  • Always keep a close eye on your bank statement to identify any charges that haven't been authorized.   
  • Never read out the full details of your credit card in a public place. And don’t ever write them down anywhere for someone else to find.
  • Avoid making payments over the phone with a credit card, unless you make the call directly and obtain the number from a trusted source. Scammers have been known to cold-call victims and convince them that money is owed immediately for a problem that doesn't exist.
  • Don't provide your CVV when processing a payment in person. It should never be required and if someone tells you otherwise, you should be highly suspicious!

Add extra protection against credit card fraud

While being careful with your CVV and credit card number will help you avoid fraud, you can add an extra layer of protection with a robust cybersecurity tool like AVG AntiVirus FREE. Block hackers, viruses and malware, and phishing scams in the form of unsafe links and email attachments. AVG runs quietly in the background, giving you 24/7 protection so you can shop online in peace.

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