3D Secure Frequently Asked Questions for Debit or Credit Card

Posted by


3D Secure is an additional layer of security for online credit and debit card transactions. It was created by Visa and is also known as Verified by Visa. Mastercard’s version is called Mastercard SecureCode.

3D Secure helps prevent unauthorized use of your card when shopping online. It requires cardholders to authenticate themselves when making purchases through participating online merchants. This authentication typically involves entering a one-time passcode or using biometrics like fingerprint or facial recognition.

In this article, we will answer some frequently asked questions about 3D Secure for debit and credit cards.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is 3D Secure?

3D Secure is an added layer of security for online credit and debit card transactions. It verifies the cardholder’s identity during online purchases to prevent unauthorized usage.

It was launched in the early 2000s by Visa and is also known as Verified by Visa. Mastercard has a similar service called Mastercard SecureCode.

Q2. How does 3D Secure work?

When you shop at a participating online merchant and enter your card details, the 3D Secure system will prompt you to authenticate your identity before the transaction can be completed.

There are a few different ways this authentication can happen:

  • One-time passcode: You will receive a passcode via text or automated phone call that you must enter to verify it’s you.
  • Biometrics: Some issuers allow fingerprint or facial recognition on your mobile device.
  • Security questions: You may need to answer some personal questions to validate your identity.
  • Mobile app: Some banks have 3D Secure authentication built into their mobile app.

Once you successfully authenticate, the transaction can proceed with the added verification that you are the valid cardholder.

Q3. Why is 3D Secure important?

3D Secure is important because it provides an extra layer of protection against fraudulent online transactions and abuse of your card details. Here are some key benefits:

  • Prevents unauthorized transactions – Criminals can steal credit card numbers but cannot authenticate as the real cardholder.
  • Reduces card-not-present fraud – This is the most common type of credit card fraud today. 3D Secure aims to combat it.
  • No liability for unauthorized purchases – For verified transactions, the cardholder has zero liability in case of fraud.
  • More secure storing of card details – Online retailers can store card details more securely knowing purchases will be authenticated.
  • Improves customer trust and experience – Customers can shop online with more confidence and peace of mind.

Q4. Is 3D Secure the same as multifactor authentication?

3D Secure is a form of multifactor authentication for online credit and debit card transactions. However, there are some differences:

  • Specific to card payments – 3D Secure is used only for verifying card transactions, not other accounts.
  • Relies on issuer – The card issuer, not merchant, performs the extra authentication check with 3D Secure.
  • Passcode or biometric – Typically uses a simple passcode or biometric verification, not other factors like security keys.
  • Merchant redirects to issuer – The shopping site redirects to the card issuer site/app for authentication.

So while 3D Secure incorporates more than one factor (card details plus passcode/biometrics) for authentication, it is specific to card payments and handled by the card issuer, not the merchant.

Q5. What information do I need to register for 3D Secure?

To register for 3D Secure, you typically need to provide your card issuer with:

  • Full name as it appears on your card
  • Card number
  • Card expiration date
  • Card security code (CVV)
  • Billing address

Some issuers may also require you to set up a verification method during registration, such as:

  • Mobile phone number for passcodes
  • Email address for one-time links
  • Answers to personal security questions
  • Biometric data like fingerprints or facial scan

You may also need to create a 3D Secure password or PIN specifically for authenticating online transactions going forward.

Q6. Do all online retailers support 3D Secure?

No, not all online merchants globally support 3D Secure yet. However, adoption has been increasing steadily.

In certain countries, regulators now require merchants that process a certain volume of transactions to support 3D Secure.

Many large retailers and popular online shopping sites have implemented 3D Secure, including:

  • Amazon
  • Ebay
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Best Buy

However, some smaller retailers may not have updated their systems yet. You may occasionally shop at a merchant that does not redirect you for 3D Secure authentication.

You can look for indications that 3D Secure is supported, like logos for “Verified by Visa” or “Mastercard SecureCode”.

Q7. Can I opt out of 3D Secure authentication?

In most cases, you cannot opt out of 3D Secure if the online merchant supports it. It is required by the card network and issuer as an additional verification of your transactions.

However, some issuers allow you to opt out of the extra authentication for:

  • Trusted merchants you shop at frequently
  • Lower risk transactions under a certain dollar amount
  • Retailers within your home country

There may also be options to selectively use 3D Secure or customize it. For example, always using a mobile passcode instead of answering security questions.

If you shop internationally, you generally cannot opt out since fraud risk is higher. You would need to contact your card issuer to discuss any alternatives available.

Q8. Does 3D Secure work internationally?

Yes, 3D Secure works globally thanks to Visa and Mastercard’s international networks.

If you initiate a card transaction overseas, you may receive a text or call prompting you to authenticate if the retailer supports 3D Secure.

However, some challenges include:

  • Mobile roaming – If you don’t have texting enabled abroad, you may need to rely on security questions or find WiFi.
  • Language barriers – Authentication prompts may not be in your native language when overseas.
  • Timing – Due to time zones, the verification request could come at an inconvenient time.
  • Texting charges – International texting rates may apply for passcodes sent by your issuer.

So while 3D Secure does function internationally, it’s a good idea to check with your issuer about the best options for authenticating while traveling abroad.

Q9. How do I get a 3D Secure passcode if I don’t have my phone?

If your phone is not available, there are a couple options to get a 3D Secure verification code:

  • Retrieve via phone call – Many issuers will place an automated call to another number you specify to receive the code verbally.
  • Use a backup verification method – If set up in advance, request the code be sent via email instead or answer security questions.
  • Use another mobile device – If you have a tablet or second phone number on file, the passcode can be sent there.
  • Contact issuer support – Explaining you cannot access your primary mobile device may allow them to assist with authentication.
  • Wait to transact – If not urgent, wait until you regain access to your primary mobile device to complete the purchase.

Banks understand phones can be misplaced or malfunction. As long as you take prudent steps to verify yourself, they will accommodate exceptions.

Q10. What happens if I fail 3D Secure authentication?

If you are unable to successfully complete 3D Secure authentication, the online purchase will be declined immediately to prevent any unauthorized transactions.

Some reasons you may fail authentication include:

  • Entering incorrect one-time passcode
  • Failing a biometric scan like fingerprint or facial recognition
  • Providing inaccurate personal details or security question answers
  • Exceeding retry limits for verification

Usually 2-3 failed attempts will be permitted before the transaction is disallowed. This prevents criminals from brute forcing the authentication.

If you unexpectedly fail, first contact your card issuer to rule out any system errors on their end. Frequently failing authentication can indicate your account is compromised or that identity theft has occurred. Taking preventative action is critical in those cases.


3D Secure adds an important layer of protection when shopping online using your credit or debit card by verifying your identity. While an extra step, authentication via mobile passcode, biometric scan or security questions helps prevent unauthorized and fraudulent transactions.

Knowing the ins and outs of how 3D Secure functions, both domestically and overseas, enables you to shop online with greater confidence that your card details stay secure. Just take care to follow your card issuer’s instructions anytime you receive an authentication prompt.