Even with the staggering number of fraud reports out there, people are still more willing than ever to shop online. It’s just so easy, and there’s simply too many “can’t miss” deals. Plus, with things like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Spotify, using credit cards online is basically unavoidable.
Did you know that 69% of US adults shop online at least once a month, and 33% of these people shop online on a weekly basis? Online shopping is clearly a pretty big deal, and you can thank sites like Amazon, Target, and Wal-Mart for that.
But you know what else is a big deal? Credit card fraud.
The bad news is, online hackers and cybercriminals are always going to try and find a way to get in the middle of you and your serial Netflix binges. So here is a novel suggestion: self-destructing credit cards.
Although it isn’t necessarily a new concept, self-destructing credit cards—also known as virtual credit cards—are gaining momentum. PC Magazine describes virtual credit cards as a randomly generated card number associated with your actual credit card and CreditCard.com defines them as disposable, temporary, or one-time use numbers that act as a wall between your transaction and your regular account.
In other words, virtual credit cards can help save you from credit card fraud. In the case of Privacy (a virtual credit card site), every time you want to make an online transaction, you simply request a virtual credit card. To simplify requests, Privacy designed a browser extension which allows the Privacy icon to appear on any credit card form. When you click the icon, a virtual number fills the form in automatically. If a hacker gets hold of one of these cards, it’s useless to them. The card number will no longer work for purchases.
However, if you have ongoing purchases with specific sites—say Spotify or Netflix—you can create a virtual card with Privacy that’s exclusively for subscription-based services or sites you frequent. With these cards, you can set limits and expiration dates and shut down any card at any point. This makes it simple to manage purchases and control who uses your card, how much money is spent, and what the card is used to purchase. All in all, you’ve limited your potential for credit card fraud to basically nothing.
Despite its many benefits though, all of this doesn’t come devoid of drawbacks.
Here are a couple things to consider before using a virtual credit card:
- Returns might not always be the simplest thing with a virtual credit card. Since your card number usually self-destructs automatically, you won’t have a card for any returned money to go back to. PC Magazine says that ifyou get the return approved, you might be stuck with store credit.
- Your bank account is still online so you won’t be completely immune to the threat of fraud. A hacker will just have to hack the source of things to steal your information, which could be Privacy’s database or whichever virtual credit card company you choose to go with. You will need to be able to trust the provider of the service to proactively secure your bank account information.
If you think you’re fine doing what you’re doing, then by all means, continue. However, if you’re intrigued at all, try to use a virtual credit card service with sites that may not have as much protection as a site like Amazon or Wal-Mart, to be safe.