In 2015, 69% of US adults shopped online at least once a month, and 33% of these people shopped online on a weekly basis. So, yeah, you could say that online shopping is a pretty big deal, and you can thank sites like Amazon and Wal-Mart for that.
But you know what else is a big deal?
Credit card fraud.
In 2014, 31.8 million Americans suffered from a credit card breach, which was three times the amount of breaches reported in 2013.
It’s okay. You can take a minute to catch your breath.
Regardless of these numbers though, people are still more willing than ever to shop online, and we completely get this. It’s just way too easy, and there’s simply too many “can’t miss” deals. And plus, with things like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Spotify, using credit cards online is basically unavoidable – it’s fate.
Whether or not it really is fate, online hackers and cyber-criminals are always going to try and find a way to get in the middle of you and your serial Netflix binges. You can believe that. So, if you don’t mind, we’d like to offer up a suggestion.
Self-destructing credit cards.
Although it isn’t necessarily a new concept, with startups like Privacy popping up, 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, 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 a 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 few 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 if you get the return approved, you might be stuck with store credit.
- Your bank account is still online so you won’t be immune to the threat of fraud. The hacker will just have to hack the source of things to steal your information – which would 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 we can get you to budge at all, let it be with lesser known sites. 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.