As you shop the World Wide Web this holiday season, consider masked credit cards for purchases. They will lower the risk of financial data theft.
Every season is a good season to guard your personal credit data because every time you use a bank card, there is some risk. However, the holidays are a prime time for card number theft simply because there are so many extra transactions made. If you’re really concerned about being hit by fraud, consider masked credit cards. They’re a fraud-proof way to buy online while holding onto your peace of mind.
It seems like ages have passed, but it’s been just two years since the massive Target data breach disrupted the holiday season of 2013. Millions of customers had their credit account numbers stolen. The timing was terrible for holiday shoppers – especially those using debit cards who saw their accounts drained. Others had credit cards frozen until replacements could arrive. These victims had a less than happy holiday.
The October arrival of more chip and PIN credit cards is expected to make brick and mortar shopping more secure this holiday season, but hackers are expected to shift their emphasis to online fraud. For some credit users, banks already offer a service to generate one-time credit card numbers for online or mail-order use. The few extra seconds it takes may be worth the effort.
Citi calls theirs the Virtual Account number. You can request a single-use number for transactions that seem a bit risky including those at websites you don’t normally frequent.
“You can use a randomly generated Citi card Virtual Account number instead of your real account number. All purchases made with your temporary number will appear on your monthly statement with your other purchases and will include the Virtual Account Number that was used for each transaction,” the company explains.
Bank of America also has a service called ShopSafe. Again, your real card number is never disclosed to merchants who might who may poorly manage their data security and fall victim to a hack. You can also use it to manage recurring payments that hit your credit account such as the cable or cell phone bill.
There are over 25 billion (with a B) card purchases made annually with countless opportunities for fraud and data theft. Yet some financial firms like American Express and Discover discontinued virtual card numbers in recent years. If the latest wave of card fraud has made you jumpy, there is one private company that offers a service you can use with any credit card.
It’s called Blur (formerly known as MaskMe). At Abine, the masked credit card feature is part of the company’s Blur Premium bundle that costs several dollars per month. However, Abine.com offers a 30-day free trial to check it out before you commit funds. You register your card with them and the purchase shows up on your statement as “Abine”. Paired with masked card numbers, the company also offers one-time email address that will reduce spam in the future.
If the merchant ever gets hacked, the only credit data on file is a masked card showing a zero balance. You can even use a fake name if you wish. The billing address will be listed as Abine’s company office in Boston, Massachusetts and the shipping address can be wherever you want the item sent.
Together, the disguised card number and address can take a big bite out of online card fraud and may be a good investment – especially if you have just one credit card you need to guard closely. Just make sure to research how refunds, extended warranties, and defective items are currently handled.
Understand that the big benefit of a masked credit card is the convenience of avoiding account compromise, not actual monetary loss since most cards offer $0 liability for fraud. You’ll get the bucks back eventually but if you’re flirting with your credit limit this holiday, you don’t want some hacker using up all the available credit when you have time-sensitive purchases to make.