A virtual credit card number could be one of the best tools available to credit card users who make purchases on the Web. With this number, individuals can safely make purchases online without worrying that a hacker could steal their information.
Credit card companies believe that one of the main reasons some people do not shop online is because of a fear their credit card numbers will be stolen. These customer concerns are justified. A study by Gartner Research found that in 2004 1.98 million adults experienced some sort of crime online, with an estimated total cost of $2.4 billion. In many cases, these individuals had their account numbers stolen. When this happens, thieves can either run up charges on the credit cards themselves, or even worse, sell the numbers to others on the black market.
About Virtual Credit Card Numbers
Several credit card companies now offer virtual credit card numbers. With a virtual card number, the customer is given the option of using a single-use credit card number as a substitute for their actual credit card numbers. By using this special card number their real credit card numbers are not broadcasted on the Web. The numbers are usually valid for onetime use and only on one website. The company generates a different, random card number at each of the places you shop online. By doing this, the credit card companies stop would-be hackers from taking the number and making a charge on any other website.
Drawbacks of Virtual Cards
Virtual credit card numbers can be a hassle, and sometimes they are not useable. One example of this is if a person is using a will call service, such as for sporting tickets or to purchase items which they will be picking up at a box office or store. With these will call transactions, a virtual number cannot be used because the retailer will need to see the card to allow the individual to pick up the merchandise. Users cannot use these types of payments for reoccurring charges either since they aren't good for repeated purchases.
Citibank: Citibank offers virtual account numbers for users without a fee. To sign up for this service, you must have an existing Citi credit card account. Simply log in to the system with a user ID and password you create. The number is created instantly and the transaction processed.
PayPal: PayPal also offers a similar program for its credit card users. The company's program is called the PayPal Virtual Debit Card. Those who have a PayPal account with a debit card can use the service to make purchases any place credit cards are accepted on the Web. All of the protections afforded to users are still in place.
It is possible that other companies will create similar programs. As many people look for ways to protect themselves against identity theft and fraud, virtual numbers are often one of the best options for online shopping.