AVS stands for Address Verification Service. AVS is required for all card-not-present (keyed) credit card transactions. At the time of the transaction, simply enter the street address and ZIP code along with the card number, expiration date and amount. When the transaction is submitted for authorization, the address and ZIP code are checked against the billing address and ZIP code for the cardholder. The AVS response is provided by the issuing bank and the result is either a match, partial match, no match, or AVS not available/error.
You can use this information for fraud control. For example, if the address and ZIP code do not match, it would be prudent for you to contact the cardholder before shipping expensive merchandise. There is a small cost for AVS, but it is usually incorporated into the transaction fee. You should use AVS if you accept credit card orders via the internet, or anytime a credit card is not present, as it will help reduce the risk of chargebacks.