Privacy Virtual Cards
Spending Limits

Set a spending limit and Privacy will decline any transactions that go over the limit

Merchant-Locked Cards

Lock Privacy Cards to the first merchant they’re used at to prevent misuse if stolen

Single-Use Cards

Create Privacy Cards that close automatically after the first purchase is made on them

Pause/Close Cards

Pause or close your Privacy Cards at any time to block future transaction attempts

Sign Up For Privacy Now

Is It Safe To Give a Debit Card Number and CVV Over the Phone?

Maria Marcano, Consumer Operations
Oct 30, 2023
 Min Read
Protect Your Debit Card Payments

Card-not-present transactions are becoming increasingly popular, having grown by more than 20% in 2021 alone, according to Visa’s estimates. Card-not-present transactions refer to remote credit and debit card purchases, processed without a physical card interacting with a POS terminal—in other words, transactions conducted online and over the phone.

The popularity of card-not-present transactions raises a crucial question—is it safe to give a debit card number and CVV over the phone? This article will provide the answer and tackle other relevant topics, such as:

  • The meaning and significance of the CVV number
  • The most common types of phone scams
  • Effective ways to verify callers
  • Safer alternatives to phone transactions using a debit card

What Is a CVV Number, and Why Can Revealing It Be Risky?

Source: Ryan Born

CVV is short for “card verification value,” a unique code used to confirm online and over-the-phone transactions with debit and credit cards. The name and structure of the CVV can vary depending on the card issuer—here’s a breakdown of CVVs across the four largest payment card networks:

Card Issuer
Name Acronym Number of Digits
Mastercard® Card Verification Value 2 CVV2 3
Visa Card Verification Value 2 CVV2 3
Discover Card Verification Value  CVV 3
American Express Card Identification Number CID 4

Regardless of the names used by different card issuers, CVV is the standard industry term. The CVV number is generally found on the back of a payment card, either next to the signature strip or at its end. American Express is the exception, as it is the only issuer that places the CVV on the front side of its cards.

The CVV code is designed to make card-not-present fraud more difficult. If a thief obtains your card number, the card number alone will be useless without the CVV. 

This number is only used to confirm card-not-present purchases. If someone at a physical POS terminal asks for your CVV, that’s an immediate red flag—your PIN is the only confirmation you may need for in-person transactions and ATM withdrawals.

Is It Safe To Give Your Debit Card Details Over the Phone?

Many debit card users believe that making purchases over the phone is a more secure option than conducting them online. The reasoning behind that thought process is that during online purchases, your card data is stored on a merchant’s servers, exposing it to potential theft in case a data breach occurs. Transactions made over the phone seemingly won’t expose your financial data to such risks, as it may appear significantly more difficult to store your data during over-the-phone purchases. 

However, phone sales pose risks for debit card users. Since merchants can’t view your card details directly, they will require you to provide all the information printed on it over the phone, including: 

  • Your full name 
  • Card number
  • Card expiry date
  • CVV number 

Since you are communicating with a human agent during this type of sale, there’s always the risk of them compromising your data or someone intercepting your call and stealing the same information.

Fraudsters may also employ various other methods to obtain your financial data over the phone, such as impersonating a legitimate institution and asking for confidential information—including your debit card number and CVV. In such cases, you should ensure a caller isn’t running a phone scam before disclosing any personal and financial information.

The Most Common Phone Scams You Should Be Aware Of

Source: Julian Hochgesang

Some of the most common phone scams conducted by fraudsters to obtain your financial information are as follows:

Bank fraud calls or government official imposter scams

Scammers pose as a bank and alert you of potential fraud in your bank account before requesting personal and financial information over the phone. Similarly, a fraudster may pretend to be a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) employee asking for financial information.

False prizes 

Scammers contact you with the promise of a prize, but only if you provide your debit card details to receive the non-existent reward. Once fraudsters obtain your debit card information, they may attempt to perform unauthorized payments with your card, which can lead to lengthy disputes and financial losses on your end. That’s why it is crucial to learn how to spot warning signs of fraud and recognize when a fraudulent scam call is directed toward you. 

How To Verify Callers

Source: NordWood Themes

Sharing your CVV and debit card number over the phone is risky, even with legitimate businesses—because there is no way of confirming if the caller representing the company will expose the information provided. 

If you can’t avoid sharing your debit card data over the phone, you must first determine if you’re dealing with a legitimate caller. You can do so by requesting the caller’s full legal name and title and then confirming this information independently on official websites or similar trustworthy sources.

Before providing the sensitive payment information the caller requested, you should also consider if the call was solicited. Most organizations and companies will first try contacting you via email before having someone call in person. It is necessary to exercise extreme caution when it comes to providing financial data—like your card number and CVV—during a call you didn’t initiate.

Another red flag of a potential scammer is if the caller tries to speed up the process and pressure you into sharing your card info quickly. Legitimate callers will typically give you enough time to consider their request, so a heightened sense of urgency may indicate a phone scam. 

One of the easiest ways to confirm a caller’s identity is to ask them for their contact information, with a number you can call back and a specific extension. If they’re legitimate, they’ll cooperate and understand your precaution. 

You can find the official contact details for the organization they’re supposedly representing online and cross-reference them with the information you’ve received from the caller. To be safe, you should consider calling back through other channels to verify the identity of the representative. 

It is essential to pay close attention to how the caller reacts to your line of questioning and not provide any financial information unless you’re satisfied with the response. 

When in doubt, you should keep a record of the exact date and time of the call—it’ll make things easier if you have to report the call as fraudulent down the line.

What To Do in Case of Debit Card Fraud

Source: Nathana Rebouças

If you believe fraudsters have obtained your debit card information through a form of card-not-present fraud, call your bank and report the incident immediately, and provide them with any relevant details to your claim. To minimize the risk of unauthorized transactions, you should ask for the compromised card to be canceled right away if your bank doesn’t do so automatically. You should receive a new debit card soon after the request. It’s important to act quickly before an unauthorized transaction takes place since the level of your liability may depend on when you reported the crime. 

Legally, you could be liable for the entire lost sum if you don’t file a report within 60 days. If you report the theft in that time period, your maximum liability is $500. The best-case scenario is filing a report within two work days of an unauthorized transaction—generally, you’re only liable for $50, and your card issuer is legally obliged to reimburse you for the remaining amount.

In practice, most consumer debit card issuers have zero-liability policies and will reimburse you for the entire amount of the unauthorized transactions—but only after a tedious and lengthy reporting process. 

Even if your bank closes your compromised debit card following a fraud incident, it is likely that your bank account details associated with that card will remain the same. You should replace old passwords for your online checking accounts and check your card statements regularly to ensure there are no signs of further fraudulent transactions. 

Virtual Cards Can Help Protect Your Financial Data During Transactions

One of the most effective ways to protect your financial data during card-not-present transactions is to avoid providing your real debit card information altogether

You can achieve that by using virtual cards. The 16-digit number, CVV code, and expiration date on a virtual card are uniquely generated to mask your financial information and add an integral layer of safety to your digital purchases.

You can connect a virtual card to your debit card or bank account and use it for online purchases like you would a regular debit card. A potential hacker who breaches a merchant's website can only access your virtual card number while your real card and bank info remain protected. 

If you’re interested in a safe way to conduct debit card transactions, consider Privacy Virtual Cards

Keep Your Card Information Safe With Privacy Virtual Cards

Privacy is a BBB-accredited independent virtual card provider dedicated to enhancing the security of your debit card and bank account data during online purchases. The company is compatible with most U.S. banks—you need to be 18 and have a checking account at a U.S. bank or credit union to request a virtual card with Privacy. 

The virtual card issuer follows the latest cybersecurity protocols, ensuring safety comparable to that of a reputable and reliable bank. 

To help you make online purchases securely, Privacy provides two types of cards:

  1. Merchant-Locked Card—This type of card can be used multiple times but at one specific merchant. If a hacker obtains the virtual card info during a data breach, they wouldn’t be able to make purchases anywhere else. Merchant-Locked Cards are perfect for subscriptions and other recurring payments.
  2. Single-Use Card—This type of card can be used only once as it closes automatically soon after the first transaction is complete. When you’re unsure of a merchant’s security practices, making a small purchase with a Single-Use card is a safe way to test them—if your virtual card data gets stolen, it will be useless to the thief.

Privacy Makes Online Transactions Easier

The Privacy platform has plenty of quality-of-life features, like its browser extensions for Safari, Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. You can use it to seamlessly and quickly finalize any online transaction without manually typing your Privacy Virtual Card info—the extension auto-fills your data at checkout. Users who like to shop on mobile can speed up checkout time with the Safari extension for iOS devices.

A dedicated Android and iOS app allows you to manage existing cards and generate new ones from your phone. The app also supports push notifications, providing a real-time update whenever one of your virtual cards is used or declined. 

You can set individual spending limits on each card to prevent merchants from overcharging you and manage your budget more efficiently. When you decide to close, pause, or unpause a Privacy Card, you can do so immediately through your browser or mobile app without affecting your actual debit card and bank account. You can take advantage of this feature to block unwanted subscription charges, but make sure to reach out to the merchant directly and cancel the subscription.

How To Start Using Privacy 

Your first Privacy Virtual Card is only a few steps away:

  1. Create a Privacy account
  2. Provide the information required to verify your identity
  3. Connect your bank account or debit card
  4. Request and generate a Privacy Card

The Personal Plan is free for domestic purchases and includes up to 12 virtual cards per month, access to the mobile app and browser extensions, and full card management capabilities. If you opt for one of the paid plans, you’ll receive additional benefits and features, such as:

  • 1% cashback on eligible transactions (totaling up to $4,500 a month)
  • Up to 60 virtual cards per month 
  • Priority support
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Dedicated account management

Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
Sign Up
Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
Sign Up
Privacy Virtual Cards
Spending Limits

Set a spending limit and Privacy will decline any transactions that go over the limit

Merchant-Locked Cards

Lock Privacy Cards to the first merchant they’re used at to prevent misuse if stolen

Single-Use Cards

Create Privacy Cards that close automatically after the first purchase is made on them

Pause/Close Cards

Pause or close your Privacy Cards at any time to block future transaction attempts

Sign Up For Privacy Now
Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Sign Up