The three- or four-digit Customer Identification (CID) number on most credit cards exists as a security measure often employed in “card not present” purchases. Examples of such transactions include orders placed through the Internet or on the phone as well as catalog purchases made via the mail. Those three numbers on the back of your card (or, in the case of American Express credit cards, the four numbers standing by themselves on the front) are your staunch little defenders against credit card fraud.
What is a CID?
The CID goes by different acronyms depending on which credit card company is referring to it. At Visa, the code is one of two important elements of the Card Verification Value (CVV2). MasterCard uses the term Card Validation Code (CVC2). Despite the diverse nomenclature, these numbers are all used for the same purpose: to help ensure that the person making an order via the Internet, phone or mail is actually in possession of the card. When retailers or service providers know that the purchaser has direct access to the credit card he or she is using, they can be more confident that the transaction is legitimate. Many methods of credit card fraud rely on the electronic theft of a credit card number only (known as skimming and cloning), as opposed to the theft of the actual card. By requesting an additional security code, merchants can render an illegally acquired credit card number useless.
Where is the CID?
On Discover, MasterCard and Visa credit cards, the CID is on the back above the signature strip. It is printed on the card, unlike the lengthy credit card number that is embossed on the front so that you can feel the raised numbers. Some credit cards have moved the CID from its position on the signature strip to a new location directly above it so that there’s no danger of making the CID illegible by signing over it.
American Express places its validation code on the front of the card. It can sit above the credit card number on either the right or left side.
Why You Must Protect Your CID
You should only reveal your CID in transactions you know to be secure. Be sure to give out your Customer Identification number only in situations that you initiated yourself. There have been several scams popping up over the past several years that revolve around CID numbers. These “phishing” trips occur when seemingly trustworthy sources (usually posing as credit card company employees) call unsuspecting consumers to convince them to reveal their credit card information. Such scams can be used as a means of acquiring a CID number in order to complete the puzzle of fraud that began with the theft of a credit card number. Remember, a credit card number is useless in most on-line or phone transactions without the CID. The theft of your credit card number alone is never a promising development, and a breached CID can’t be good, but combine those two factors and you have the recipe for one large credit card statement filled with purchases you didn’t make.
What You can do to Safeguard Your CID
Never give out unsolicited credit card details over the phone or email. If someone calls you claiming to be a representative of your credit card company in regard to a large purchase made on your account that they suspect to be fraudulent, DO NOT reveal any of your credit card information. Many scammers will lead up to the big question (“what is your CID”?) with procedures designed to lull you into a false sense of security: the verification of your mother’s maiden name, previous addresses, etc.
If there is any doubt as to the legitimacy of the call, just hang up and call your credit card company’s main customer service number. A transfer to the fraud department will reveal whether the call you received was genuine or not.
These methods will help safeguard your CID and your monthly statement. But don’t forget that there are many more elements that can contribute to your satisfaction with your credit card issuer. When searching for the best credit card for your circumstances, fraud protection is ALWAYS an important factor to consider. A card with 100% fraud protection guarantees that you will not have to pay a cent if your account is compromised and will spare you countless hours of aggravation and effort. Compare credit cards online using our secure credit card chaser now!