What Is The Security Code On A Debit Card? [FIND OUT HERE]

Shawn Manaher
Shawn Manaher
Updated on November 16, 2022
what is the security code on a debit card

When you buy something online with your debit card, you have to enter a security code. But what is this security code? And what else should you know about it?

The security code on your debit card is a number with three or four digits on the back of your debit card. You can find it under the magnetic stripe in the signature box. It is also called the CVV or the CVC. It is there to help protect your funds and ensure that other people don’t gain fraudulent access to your card or connected bank account.

Learn more about the security code on your debit card, how it works, and some other information on your debit card.

Understanding The Security Code On Your Debit Card

If you use your debit card for a purchase in a store, you likely just insert or swipe it (or maybe tap it) and then enter your PIN. But if you buy something online, you will be asked to enter your security code and your card’s expiration date. But what is the security code?

What Is The Security Code?

The security code is one of several security features on your debit card. It also appears on credit cards. You are sometimes asked to enter this three- or four-digit number, especially when buying something online.

The security code is there to reduce the risk of fraud. It gives potential thieves one more piece of information to steal from you if they want to use your card. This reduces the risk of theft.

When you enter your security code online, you’ll notice that the screen doesn’t usually display the digits you have already entered. Instead, you will see an asterisk or a dot. This extra security measure prevents people from looking at your device and discovering your security code.

Is Security Code Same As CVV?

Yes, the security code is the same as the CVV, which stands for card verification number. It is also the same thing as CVC, which stands for card verification code. All three of these terms are interchangeable.

How Does The Security Code Work?

As mentioned, the security code on your debit card is another layer of protection. This is crucial because your debit card is connected to your bank account, and purchases are automatically deducted from the account.

That is different from how credit cards work. Credit cards loan you the money. This means that the consequences of fraud on a debit card are more immediate for you than those on a credit card. Credit cards are also more likely to have protections such as full reimbursement programs for fraud, although many debit cards have these programs in place as well.

The thing to remember is that the security code is just a single additional security measure. Anyone who has your card can see it, so it is only as secure as your card itself. The idea behind the code is that you will always have your card with you, so you should be able to see the security code. By contrast, if someone just copies your number from a transaction or somewhere else, they are unlikely to copy the security code as well. This is especially true because they won’t even be able to see it.

What It Is Different From

The security code on your debit card is different from a few of the other security codes and measures on your debit card.


Your PIN is yet another security feature of your debit card, but it is different from the security code. PIN stands for “personal identification number.” This is the code that you enter when making an in-person debit card transaction or when you withdraw money from the ATM.

EMV Chip Card Codes

Another different security code is the unique code that gets generated as part of the process of using an EMV chip card. When you insert a chip card into the reader, the chip gets read. After you sign or enter your PIN, the chip will generate a unique code that only applies to that purchase. You will never see this code, but it is used to verify your transaction behind the scenes automatically.

Do All Merchants Require Security Codes?

Not all merchants will ask for security codes. This is up to the merchant to ask. That means that if a merchant doesn’t ask for the code, you can be at risk of fraudulent transactions. This is why it is so important to check your bank account and statements regularly.

Merchants Cannot Store The Code

While it is up to merchants to require the security code, they are not allowed to store it. There is no reason a store should write down or record your security code. If you see a store do so, block or disable your card and contact your bank.

Where Is The Security Code On A Debit Card? Where Can I Find My Debit/Credit Card Security Code?

On most debit cards and credit cards, the security code appears on the back of the card. Look inside the box where your signature goes. It is typically on the right side of this box. However, depending on your card, the security code may appear somewhere else. American Express cards, for example, put the code on the front side of the card. If the security code is on the front of the card, it will usually be to the right of your card number.

Understanding The Other Numbers On Your Debit Card

In addition to the security code, there are a few other numbers on your debit card. These also appear on credit cards.

The Card Number

The card number is 15 or 16 digits long, and it usually appears on the front of your card. There are, however, a handful of cards where it appears on the back.

The Expiration Date

Most debit and credit cards also have an expiration date. This is the month and year when your debit card will stop working. Most banks and credit card issuers will automatically send you a replacement as this time approaches.

If you make an online purchase, it will likely ask for your card’s expiration date in addition to the security code and card number. You can find the expiration date on the front of the card, typically close to the bottom center. 

The Issue Date

Some debit and credit cards also have an issue date. This is much less common, but you shouldn’t be surprised to see it. It is also likely to appear on the front of the card.

What Can I Do To Prevent Debit Card Theft Or Fraud?

As mentioned, the security code is one part of fraud prevention with your debit card. But you can also do a few things yourself to prevent theft or fraud.

Don’t Share Your PIN

If someone else has your PIN, they can make in-person transactions with your debit card or withdraw from an ATM. So, don’t share your PIN with anyone. And don’t write the PIN down anywhere.

Use a Credit Card When Buying Online

Whenever possible, make online purchases using a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have more security features. They are also more likely to fully reimburse you for fraud or theft.

Get Account Alerts

Most financial institutions let you set up text or email alerts (or both) when there is activity on your checking account. Set these alerts up, so you can spot any potential fraud immediately. Depending on your bank, you may be able to set them up for specific types of transactions or transactions over a certain value. Other banks only let you receive alerts for everything or nothing.

Take Action If You Don’t Recognize Activity

If you get an alert for a transaction that you don’t recognize or you notice on your statement, don’t ignore it. Take action right away to prevent further fraud and increase your chances of being reimbursed.

Use Card Controls In Your Mobile App

If you have your bank’s mobile app, it will likely let you disable your debit card. Do this if you suspect fraud or if you lose your card. That will instantly prevent thieves from using your card.

Call Your Bank

Then, contact your bank to report the suspicious activity. You can do this over the phone, in person, or online. The important thing is to contact them as soon as possible.

This is a crucial step. Legally, your bank can only hold you liable for up to $50 of fraudulent transactions if you notify the bank within two business days. If you wait up to 60 days, you could be liable for up to $500. If you wait more than 60 days, you may be liable for everything.


Your debit card security code is a three- or four-digit code that appears on the back of your card, although some card issuers put the code on the front. It is an additional security measure to confirm that the person using your card number has physical access to the card. This greatly reduces the risk of fraud or theft.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author.

He's been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.

He loves to share his personal finance tips and money management wisdom with others to help them find financial freedom.
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