Prevent Credit Card Fraud With Virtual Credit CardsDecember 7, 2010 - 8:51 pm
Credit card fraud and incidents of identity theft are a concern for consumers throughout the year. Unfortunately during the holiday season the number of cases where people find themselves victims of these crimes tends to increase. This is in part due to the increased number of credit card transactions which occur during this time of year. To reduce the risk of falling victim to a thief or con artist, consider using a virtual credit card when making online purchases or transactions.
What is a virtual credit card?
If you are unfamiliar with a virtual credit card or virtual credit card numbers, the concept is relatively simple. Instead of using the information on your “real” credit card such as the account number, expiration date and security code on the back of the card, you use another set of numbers issued by your credit card company. You can apply for your virtual credit card by contacting the issuer of your current credit card. In many cases you can also purchase a prepaid virtual credit card which is completely separate from your regular credit card account.
How do virtual credit cards work?
When you are issued a virtual credit card, you will receive new credit card information that can either be used for a limited period of time or for a specific purchase. Virtual credit cards can be used to buy products online or to pay for services that you would normally buy via the Internet. Depending on which option you choose, the virtual credit card may be good for one single transaction or multiple transactions which remain below the credit limit established for the virtual credit card. Virtual credit card numbers may be used in situations where you would normally enter your “real” credit card information via the Internet or telephone. A virtual credit card may not be used in situations which normally require the merchant to swipe your credit card to complete the transaction.
How do virtual credit cards protect against fraud?
When you apply for a virtual credit card you are creating a separate account or identity that is not linked to your regular credit card account. Depending on whether or not you opt for a prepaid virtual card or simply request a virtual credit card number that is linked to your regular card, a potential thief will not have access to your regular credit card information. By limiting access to your regular credit card account, you reduce the chances of having that information used to steal your identity or rack up fraudulent charges. To increase your protection you can often opt to specify where the virtual credit card number can be used as well as the expiration date. In any event, buy paying for online or telephone orders with a virtual credit card you greatly reduce the amount of personal information to which a potential thief has access. Whenever you are shopping online, it is also important to learn and implement secure buying habits to ensure any information transmitted via the Internet is protected and secure.