Use Virtual Credit Cards
Millions of Americans are the victims of credit card fraud every year. A fifth of these people blame the internet. In fact, the top reason people shy away from internet shopping is the fear of theft of personal information.
Virtual credit cards, also known as substitute credit card numbers or controlled payment numbers, have already been around almost seven years but have never caught on despite being a free and effective layer of protection.
Here’s how they work. You sign up for the program (MBNA, Citibank, Discover and PayPal all have them.) and download their software. Enter your credit card info, and generate a new number whenever you want to make an online purchase.
Depending on the program, the new number will be one-time use, have a small spending limit with an imminent expiration date, or will be able to be used multiple times but only with one merchant.
Your actual account number will only be visible to you and your bank. The merchant never sees your number and can’t retain your information in his database. This way, hackers will only be able to see your temporary number, which will be useless to them.
So, why haven’t virtual credit cards caught on? Many consumers find them to be a hassle, particularly when you’ll only be liable for at most $50 if your actual credit card is stolen. However, credit card theft can turn into full-blown identity theft when your credit card information is matched up with other information about you that is floating around on the web.