Best practices to ensure credit card, debit card, and CVV safety while shopping online

Online shopping is no longer just a convenience; it’s an integral part of daily life for most Australians, with consumers spending $63.8 billion online in 2022.1

But as online transactions become more ubiquitous, protecting sensitive credit and debit card details is more important than ever.

In this guide, learn about credit card data storage and different potential security measures to help provide confidence and safety while shopping online.

What does CVV stand for?

Card Verification Value — more commonly known as a CVV code — is an authentication measure for online transactions. Typically found on the back of a card, this three- or four-digit code confirms that a shopper has the card in their possession, making it more challenging for criminals to make purchases using stolen card information.

Is it safe to give a debit card number and CVV online?

It’s generally safe to enter a debit card number and CVV online on reputable and trustworthy websites.

However, it’s good practice to exercise caution when online shopping — there’s always a risk of financial information being compromised. Make sure to regularly monitor bank statements for unauthorised transactions, and quickly report discrepancies to the bank.

How are credit card security codes utilised?

Here’s a look at what may happen once a shopper hits the Checkout button:

  1. The shopper’s credit card number, expiry date, and CVV are transmitted to the payment gateway, which is the intermediary between the retailer and the financial institution.
  2. The transaction system encrypts the information, then sends it securely to the payment processor.
  3. The processor contacts the issuing bank to check whether the card is valid and sufficient funds are available. The bank also conducts a CVV verification.
  4. If the transaction is approved, an authorisation code is sent back to the payment gateway, which relays this to the merchant.
  5. The purchase is complete.

Protecting your card information against fraud

In an increasingly digital world, anyone can fall victim to financial fraud. Understanding the potential risks and taking proactive measures can go a long way in safeguarding one's sensitive card information and financial assets.

Some common types of fraud include:

  • Phishing emails and calls: These deceptive communications mimic legitimate institutions to trick individuals into sharing sensitive information.
  • Fake websites: These sites may look trustworthy but are designed to capture personal information.
  • Misuse of public Wi-Fi: Unsecured public Wi-Fi networks can be easily compromised, leading to unauthorised access to any data transmitted over them.

To help prevent phishing attacks, increase credit card security, and minimise the likelihood of debit card fraud:

  • Avoid public Wi-Fi for transactions: Always use private, secure networks when online shopping.
  • Beware of unsolicited communications: Be extra cautious when someone asks for personal or financial information.
  • Double-check senders’ identities: Suspicious URLs or misspelled email addresses are red flags.
  • Monitor account statements vigilantly: Quick action can prevent further financial loss.

Potential practices to safeguard your CVV number

While the CVV is a vital security measure for online purchases, its effectiveness may be compromised if not handled carefully.

Use these potential tips to help protect CVV numbers:

  • Keep it safe: Never digitally store or write down the CVV number in a place where others can access it.
  • Use secure and reputable websites: Choose credible retailers or sites with trust indicators like verified certificates or secure payment gateways.
  • Understand the Secure Socket Layer (SSL): Look for "https://" in the address bar to ensure that websites are using SSL, which is an encrypted link between a web server and a browser.
  • Explore secure payment options: Whenever possible, opt for payment methods known for their security features like PayPal or credit cards that offer fraud protection. Learn more about PayPal online security.

How do merchants store credit card details?

Merchants don’t typically keep sensitive data like a CVV. Instead, they may only store and encrypt basic information to facilitate easier transactions for returning customers.

Retailers storing credit card information must adhere to specific industry regulations, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Lack of compliance could result in severe penalties and loss of the ability to process credit card payments.

Consumers have rights concerning how their credit card information is stored and used, and many websites will have privacy policies with this information.

Want to shop online more confidently? Put away physical cards and use a reputable online payment provider instead. When consumers shop with PayPal, they benefit from additional security measures designed to protect stored card details, such as:

  • Two-factor authentication (2FA): Text or email verification adds an extra layer of security.
  • Regular audits and compliance checks: Regular audits ensure compliance with security standards.
  • Fraud monitoring: Advanced algorithms constantly monitor transactions for suspicious activities.

Protect your CVV and other sensitive financial information by learning how to link credit or debit cards to PayPal.

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