disposable credit cards

March 7th, 2007


Imagine I want to buy something from a less than big-name retailer online. Could be anything from a custom piece of electronics, to a custom set of mittens. I’m not comfortable giving them my real email address, but for some reason, I hand out my credit card number, expiration date, and security code. If they cared to, they could commit some fun-time credit-fraud, and I just gave them the gun to shoot me.

Why haven’t banks embraced the use of one-time-use credit card numbers? Think about it. You go to your online banking page, request a temporary number, paste it into the retailer’s site. The number works only one time, and could even be keyed to the vendor’s domain. The banks get a great tool for not only preventing fraud, but tracking fraud that may be attempted.

We know they can roll out changes like this to vendors with comparative ease. They implemented widespread use of the ccv code with little noticeable trouble. They could even create a new format for the numbers, and require a new entry field for vendors.

I hear you out there saying, “But Tucker, what you’re recommending means Visa/MC/Amex/Discover have to get together with the various banks distributing their cards and the vendors as well to coordinate this whole thing!” That’s true. But think of the billions of dollars the industry loses to fraud every year. And think of the public relations benefits. I know I would move to a credit card vendor that gave me this feature in a heartbeat.

UPDATE: Apparently, I’m just using the wrong credit cards. Sounds like some banks do offer this, on selected cards.

9 Responses to “disposable credit cards”

  1. kenneth says:

    Maybe I read your post too quickly (a drawback of browsing at work) but my CC company/bank already has stuff like this. And when I worked at a cc transaction processing company we had support for this for the merchants- granted the US based banks were slow to start using it, but the UK ones had it.

    Citi for example calls them “virtual numbers”:
    Shop with confidence and never use your real credit card number online again. Instead, get added protection by generating a substitute number for each purchase. And just like your other transactions, you can track purchases made with Virtual Account Numbers. But your real account number is never revealed to the merchant or anyone else. It’s FREE and easy!

  2. Gene says:

    My American Express card had this feature years ago… but they stopped offering it. They never gave an explanation for it; but I did always wonder: how many numbers could they give out for individual purchases until they ran out?

  3. Cliff says:

    My CitiBank and BofAmerica card websites offer this feature. Citi has had it for a very long time.

  4. cauley says:

    Old news or no, that is a wonderful illustration.I wish real AmEx cards had that image. And that I had one.

  5. cauley says:

    By one I mean an AmEx card, not a ball gag.

  6. Voice0Reason says:

    You want to be gagged with an Amex card?

  7. Appreciate the info guys, thanks

  8. .:Giqqlesz:. says:

    i think youu should qive me
    your credit card number!
    hahahaha jk
    bt you shouldnt be doinq that shit foo!
    dont qive away yuhrr stuff like that!
    stupid ass

  9. pussy_licker3000 says:

    qood job!