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From my experience a card can not be used for online payment without a valid CVV, then why is it still always emphasized that card number must be protected? What can a hacker do, assume that he has all the information on the front side of the card (card number, holder name, expiry date) but not the CVV?

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The only fields required to charge a credit card are the number (also called a PAN or personal account number), the expiration date, and an amount. Without the CVV it is still very possible to charge the card.

Many merchants will require the CVV and/or postal code as basic anti-fraud mechanisms. There is also an incentive for many merchants as providing these can qualify them for lower interchange rates, the service fee paid by merchants to the card network.

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