Credit Card Processing

Signature Panel Code: What Is it and How Does it Work?

graphic of a purple credit card that is zoomed in on the signature panel code.

You may have seen the signature panel code as a three or four-digit number on your credit card. This code is used as an extra layer of security on cards and is typically requested from you when you are making online transactions. Many cardholders keep this code private as it can protect them from fraudulent transactions. Continue reading for an in-depth explanation of what a signature panel code is and to discover its significance.

What Is a Signature Panel Code on a Credit Card?

The signature panel code aids merchants in verifying a customer’s card legitimacy in card-not-present transactions. All major card brands—Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express—must have a code on each card they issue. Visa, Mastercard, and Discover will show this code as a three-digit number while American Express shows it as a four-digit number.

Merchants ask customers to provide signature panel codes and send them to credit card issuers as part of their authorization requests. Upon determining the validity of the code, the card issuer sends a result back to the merchant with the authorization.

Where Is the Signature Panel Code Located on a Credit Card?

The location of the code depends on each card brand. On Visa, MasterCard, and Discover cards, a three-digit security code appears on the back of the card immediately after the account number. However, it’s not uncommon for some banks to only display the last four digits of the account number followed by the code. On American Express cards, the four-digit code is on the front of the card on the right-hand side.

Why Is the Signature Panel Code Important?

A signature panel code is often required for over-the-phone and online transactions where a merchant can’t swipe or read a card. So, the signature code acts as an identifier to verify that the card is in the customer’s possession and that a valid account is associated with the card. You can think of a security code as a pin number that ensures that no one else will be able to use your credit card.

What Are the Different Types Of Signature Codes?

While there aren’t different types of signature codes, there are different names for them. Various financial institutions may call them by a different term than “signature panel code” but despite their name, they all serve the same purpose. Here are some of the names you may come across when discussing security codes with banks and customers:

  • CVC / CVC2 — Card verification code
  • SPC — Signature panel code
  • CVV / CVV2Card verification value
  • CVN — Card verification number
  • CVVC — Card verification value code
  • CVD — Card verification data
  • CSC — Card security code

Is It Safe to Share Your Signature Panel Code?

You should always be protective of any sensitive information, including your customer’s card information. The most important thing to keep in mind is who is asking for your signature panel code. A bank or financial institution will never ask you to share your security code. However, merchants are allowed to ask their customers for their credit card’s security code if they’re taking credit card payments over the phone. The most important thing to be aware of is that scammers will call you and go to great lengths to gain access to your security code. Usually, they do this by pretending to be your bank.

Final Thoughts on Signature Panel Codes

A signature panel code is one of the most important security measures on a credit card because it identifies each specific cardholder. The best way to prevent fraudsters from obtaining confidential information is to keep this code private. If you’re a merchant who is accepting credit cards and collecting sensitive card data, consider investing in a credit card processor that prioritizes your security.

graphic of two people holding devices to signify a completed transaction after the merchant put in the signature panel code

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