Isn’t That Illegal?
Yes, using credit cards fraudulently is illegal. This article is absolutely not suggesting that you
make up and use a credit card number. You should also never use credit cards belonging to other people.
Below is a summary of new services the credit card companies have created to make online credit card use more secure.
How Does It Work?
It is more appropriate to use the terms “temporary credit card numbers” or “single-use credit card numbers” rather
than “fake credit card numbers.” Some credit card issuers allow customers to generate and use a credit card number
that is different from the number on their plastic credit card.
Current Online Security Measures
Security-conscious online buyers should only submit their credit card numbers to web sites that are secured
by Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption. You can tell if a web page is secure by looking for the following signs:
1. The page address in the browser address bar begins with https. The extra “s” means secure.
Normal web page addresses begin with http.
2. The browser will usually display a closed lock or a complete key symbol when you are at a secure page.
3. Clicking or double-clicking the closed lock symbol (or the security symbol your browser uses)
will usually show the security information for that website.
4. Secure (https) web pages will encrypt (scramble) your credit card information before sending it across the
public internet. Chances are that a human being will never even view the information.
That Sounds Secure Enough. Why Do We Need Single-Use Credit Card Numbers?
It is a bonus to the consumer any time a vendor can provide an extra layer of security.
Online credit card consumers can generate a separate credit card number for each online purchase, if they wish.
This easy-to-use extra security measure makes consumers more confident about buying with credit cards over the internet.
Anyone who did view your information in transit would see only your encrypted information. Encrypted information looks
like gibberish to everyone except the credit card company’s computer.
Additionally, it is no longer necessary to submit online the credit card number imprinted on your physical credit card.
Will They Run Out Of Credit Card Numbers?
No! Assume that Earth’s population is about 6 billion people. Most credit card numbers have 16 digits in
this familiar pattern: nnnn-nnnn-nnnn-nnnn. Assume that each digit in a credit card number can assume any value
between 0 and 9. That works out to be almost 1.7 million credit card numbers available to every man, woman,
and child on Earth! Even if the first 4 digits are reserved for some reason, there are still about 170 credit card
numbers available for every person on the planet. In short, the credit card companies will not run out of single-use
credit card numbers.
How Are They Different From My Real Credit Card Number?
They are as valid as your plastic credit card to online merchants. Each single-use credit card number is linked
to your primary credit card account. Purchases made with single-use numbers appear on your monthly statement.
Refunds made to single-use numbers will appear as credits on your monthly statement.
OK, What’s The Bad News?
There are certain circumstances under which you should not use a single-use credit card number to make an online
purchase. This author learned from experience not to use a single-use number at home to purchase movie tickets
from a popular online ticket vendor. The problem occurred because the machine at the movie theater that
dispenses the online movie tickets requires the insertion of your real plastic credit card.
If you did not use your real credit card number to buy the tickets, the machine will not release your tickets.
Any online purchase that requires you to present your physical credit card at the venue should only be
made with the number on your physical credit card. Web sites that sell movie and other tickets will warn you of this.
Furthermore, your online ticket purchase will come with a confirmation number. Write or print that number and
take it with you in case of problems.
Single-use credit card numbers are easy to generate, make online buying safer and more secure,
and give consumers extra confidence when making online purchases. Call your credit card company or visit their
website to learn if it offers this extra peace of mind on your credit card account.
Use the links following this article to learn more about cash rebate credit cards and gas credit cards.