Technology Networking & Internet

What Is a MasterCard Security Code?

    Banks and Retailers

    • An individual can only participate in MasterCard SecureCode if his financial institution is a participant. However, with more than 6,000 banks and credit unions participating in the program and new enrollees on a regular basis, the odds are good that a desired bank participates. Once enrolled, however, use of the code is determined by online retailer participation. According to MasterCard, more than 350,000 merchants participate worldwide. Due to volume, a specific list is no longer maintained online. However, most participating merchants display a MasterCard SecureCode logo on their sites.

    Signing Up

    • Begin sign-up by searching for your financial institution in the list of participating banks and credit unions on MasterCard's site. Select your institution and fill in requested details, such as name, address and account number. Follow any remaining prompts to complete your request. Once you receive your secure code you will be ready to begin enjoying greater security at online checkout.

    Using the Code

    • The transaction process remains the same when shopping online with one exception. A participating merchant will automatically recognize that the card you input is tied to an enrolled account and the site will prompt you to enter your SecureCode. The code will then be sent to your financial institution for nearly instant verification that the code is correct and an approval or declination will be sent back to the retailer. This is akin to using a PIN online. In these instances a purchase will only go through when the correct SecureCode is entered. This provides protection because even if someone has your card number, the card will not work at a large number of sites.

    Additional Details

    • In the event of fraudulent card use--for example, at an online retailer not using SecureCode--the MasterCard Zero Liability program still provides coverage to card holders. Card enrollment occurs at the account level, so if someone wants to enroll cards associated with a joint account both individuals would share one code. Expiring cards automatically carry the same code over to the newly dated cards that a financial institution issues. There is no limit on the number of cards that can be enrolled by a consumer. As well, users set up a security question and answer that can help them reset their code in the event it is forgotten.

    Merchant Implementation

    • Any merchant can add MasterCard SecureCode functionality to its site by meeting certain security standards, which may require a plug-in application, and by discussing pass-thru of authentication data with its transaction processer. With these steps met a merchant is then ready to follow the online MasterCard implementation guide. Using SecureCode holds a number of benefits for merchants including reduced fraud, reduced chargebacks, an increase in consumer confidence and, often, an increase in online business.

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