AVS stands for Address Verification System. Created by MasterCard, it is a program that enables a merchant who accepts credit cards as payment to verify that the address entered by the purchaser matches the address associated with the credit card.

For example, John Smith applies for a Visa card, which is also covered by this system, using his home address of 123 Main Street. After being approved, he tries to use this card to order something online that he needs. During the checkout process, he enters his work address of 999 Troy Road. The AVS system will decline to approve this transaction since the address Mr. Smith has on file with the Visa Card Company does not match the address and zip code information he entered online.

This advanced level of credit card security is very valuable to both shoppers and sellers. With identity and credit card theft on the rise, this program is a security measure that helps protect both consumers and retailers from fraudulent use of credit cards during the credit card processing procedure.

Consumers should be aware of this security program when applying for a credit card. The applicant should enter his exact address in the format that he will enter it every time. For example, if Mr. Smith lives in apartment number 056, he should make a note of exactly how he entered his address when filling out the credit card application. As part of his address, did he enter Apt. 056, Apt #56 or Suite 56? Each of these references to his apartment number may be read differently by a security program. He should settle on one way to represent his address and use it consistently on the application and with every purchase.

If a card holder feels that his card was declined in error, he should call his credit card company and discuss the problem with them. The company’s phone number can usually be found on the back of the card.

Not only is it a benefit to have your card connected to the AVS system to avoid fraud, but having data available to sellers who want to be sure the purchase is legitimate is also valuable. If the buyer and seller are not in the same location, it may be impossible – or terribly inconvenient – for the seller to examine the buyer’s photo ID as a verification method. The Address Verification System offers an alternative way of verifying that the card user is actually the card owner, since the address does not appear on the credit card. Someone who stole the card may not know the owner’s complete and proper address.

Keep in mind that this verification system works within the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. If credit card processing is done outside of these countries, you should do your best to confirm the foreign purchaser’s identity using other means.