Using Virtual Credit Cards in the Fight Against Identity Theft
Using Virtual Credit
Cards in the Fight Against Identity Theft
theft. It can be a consumer’s worst nightmare — someone uses
your name, your Social Security number, your credit card number
to rack up thousands of dollars in bills, potentially leaving
you to pay for a criminal’s spending. Almost as bad, it could
take months to straighten out the damage, convincing utilities
that it wasn’t really you that started up new service, convincing
credit card companies that it wasn’t you who bought that new
refrigerator, convincing reporting agencies that it’s not your
credit record that should be dinged for unpaid bills.
identity thieves use multiple tactics to get their hands on
your personal information, stealing credit card numbers is a
key component of their strategy. Besides the obvious advice
to keep your credit cards closely guarded, there is another
option you can use to thwart identity thieves — virtual credit
credit cards are actually virtual credit card numbers
— temporary numbers tied to “real” credit cards —
which can be used for online or phone purchases, but can not
be stolen and used elsewhere by thieves.
credit cards work in slightly different ways depending on the
credit card issuer, but the idea is the same. You contact your
credit card company and ask for a virtual credit card number.
This temporary number can be used for a single purchase or it
might be good for purchases only at a single retailer. Your
credit card company treats this number just like your regular
credit card number, putting your charges with a virtual number
on your regular credit card bill — but the virtual number is
useless to thieves, because no further purchases can be made
and Discover are two of the major credit card issuers that offer
virtual credit card numbers. While these and other credit card
issuers will rarely charge you more than $50 if your credit
card is stolen, virtual credit cards can still be helpful in
preventing larger identity theft attempts — it is when a thief
puts together many different pieces of your personal information
that identity theft becomes so dangerous. Keeping your credit
card number safe can stop a thief from opening utility or other
accounts in your name, as credit card numbers are often used
as a form of personal identification in these transactions.
credit cards require a bit more effort than simply pulling your
card out of your wallet. But, considering the time, energy and
money a theft of your identity could cost, they just might be
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