|Volume 4 Issue 12||December 2010|
|In This Issue|
|Does using your credit card online make you nervous?|
|Have you ever wondered if there might be a way to reduce the risk of using your credit card online? Here's my advice on this tricky subject.|
|Does using your credit card online make you nervous?
It was late July, and I was about to place an online order using my credit card. Even though I've done this sort of thing for years, this was my first order with that particular vendor. I knew that I had full consumer protection in case of any problems or fraud, but I still paused to think about it. Then I noticed that my card was about to expire. (I had already received the replacement card but hadn't activated it yet.) So, I went ahead and placed the order, knowing that my card number, if stolen, would become unusable in a couple of days.
That order turned out just fine, but now you're probably asking yourself, "Has anyone ever taken this idea of 'protecting my purchase using an about-to-expire card' and turned it into something I can use more often? And how is Martin able to transcribe my thoughts so accurately?" It turns out that a few credit card companies have turned this idea into a useful option.
Temporary credit card numbers
To help prevent fraud, some credit card companies give you the ability to create temporary credit card numbers that are linked to your current account. You create them by calling customer service or using the company's web site. They'll have an expiration date and CVV code (3-digit security code), and you can use them just like regular credit card numbers.
According to my research, back in 2000 American Express was the first company to offer this service under the name "Private Payments." I actually used this a couple of times back in 2003. However, the Amex Private Payments program was discontinued in 2004.
They're also known as:
Which companies offer this?
My unscientific research (google) found the following companies that offer temporary credit card numbers to consumers, along with the phrase they use for this concept:
When would I use a temporary credit card number instead of my real card number?
What about pre-paid credit cards or gift cards?
You can also protect your regular credit card accounts by using separate prepaid credit cards or Visa/MasterCard gift cards, but many of these deduct various fees from your balance, while regular credit card companies that offer temporary credit card numbers generally don't charge any additional fees for using them.
What about PayPal?
PayPal (http://www.paypal.com) is a useful online service that lets you pay merchants electronically using your credit card or bank account without revealing your account number to the merchant. However, despite its growing popularity, relatively few online merchants accept PayPal, whereas practically every online merchant accepts credit cards. So, unless the merchant accepts PayPal (e.g., eBay, Best Buy, Dell, iTunes, etc.), I feel that temporary credit card numbers are more useful in preventing fraud.
Where to go from here
How to contact me:
phone: (617) 484-6657
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I love helping people learn how to use their computers better! Like a "computer driving instructor," I work 1-on-1 with small business owners and individuals to help them find a more productive and successful relationship with their computers and other high-tech gadgets.