A credit card security code, magnetic stripe code, signature strip code, authorization code, or signature line code is a five-digit code that is used to make it difficult for unauthorized use of your credit card by the cardholder. These codes are normally embedded on a plastic part of the card. They are usually found at the back of the credit card and are usually easy to recognize because they look like numbers or letters. For those people who own a credit card that has had their security code compromised, they can still retrieve it from their card's security code reader.
A credit card security code typically prints out on the left side of the card. The location where the code usually prints out is not printed clearly on the card itself. It is typically printed in small print and is underlined. However, the location of the code on the front of the card is usually printed much clearer so that the cardholder will be able to locate it easily.
A typical credit card security code usually contains five digits, including the first three and last two digits. However, these digits, along with the area code and the seven-digit authorization code, may be printed on the back of the card. All of these areas, except the expiration date, are typically printed clearly on the back of the card. Also, if the card has been lost or stolen, the location where the credit card security code was originally printed will appear on an authorization form that is sent to the cardholder.
On the other hand, if a thief obtains your credit card security code and uses it to make purchases, he can trace it back to you by using the information contained in the hidden codes. The thief can also use the printed codes to determine which statements must be made to avoid being charged excessive interest rates. If the statements and the dates on the statements do not match what's on your account, the credit card company will report the fraudulent activity to the credit card issuer who will investigate the matter.
Fraudsters can also use the location of the credit card security code on the back of the card to help them steal from you. If the thief uses your card at a retail store, for example, he will know when the code at the back of the card expires. He can then wait until this expires or scour your wallet to look for the code before trying to use it to make a purchase. If this is done at a store that does not use plastic money, the crook could be waiting until the card issuer sends a notice before attempting to use your credit card.
Besides, if you do not have a credit card security code and are processing your transactions online, you should still keep your receipts and statements in a safe place. Keep any personal or sensitive information out of sight of children. It's especially important to keep these documents away from computers. Even if you use a web-based service for making purchases, make sure that you always process your purchases with a company that you have a relationship with, like American Express, Visa, or MasterCard. When you use credit cards to pay for items online, the transaction occurs on the company's secure site, so chances are the transaction is secure as well.