What’s a Virtual Credit Card Number

With the growth of on-line shopping and ordering goods over the phone, it is more important than ever to ensure the security of your credit and debit cards.  Criminals are very clever at devising innovative and convincing scams to try and obtain you credit or debit card details so that they can steal from you.  Once a criminal has your card details, they can easily steal your money without ever putting themselves in danger of being caught.  But you are not in this alone, credit and debit card providers are trying to find better ways to prevent these criminals succeeding and identifying where there are lapses in security.  One of the security measures that they have introduced is the idea of a virtual credit card.

A virtual credit card number looks like any other credit card number, but they are only valid for one transaction.  This means that if the details are scammed, they cannot be used a second time and when some tries to use it again, the card providers will be able to pinpoint where the security lapse occurred and perhaps do something to prevent future thefts.  This is a neat solution to the problem as it aids both detection and prevention.

In order to use this facility, you will need to obtain a virtual credit card number.  These numbers are generated by banks and other financial institutions.  Each number is unique and can be used only once.  You will need to contact your bank, or card provider, and ask to make use of this facility.  Then every time that you wish to make a remote purchase you will have the comfort of knowing that even if the details are stolen they cannot be re-used and this will protect you from being subject to identify theft and card cloning.

The way you purchase this facility is to pay for a virtual credit card.  The limit to how much you can spend will be the purchase price and since it can only be used once, you should make sure it is at the level you need.  You will not receive an actual card that you can carry around or use in shops, but you will receive a set of data that you would usually expect to provide to an on-line or telephone retailer.  So you will have a credit card number, but one that can only be used once, a start and expiry date, a security code and sometimes a PIN too.

There are a range of other types of protective shopping arrangements that you can make which are becoming more popular these days.  Working much like a virtual credit card are the providers who you pay for a voucher which can then be used to make purchases remotely, UKash is one such example.  These are a little more limiting as the vouchers can only be used with participating retailers, and so not as flexible as credit or debit cards.  Nevertheless this is a growing business and is becoming evermore popular.

Another alternative are providers like PayPal.  They operate like a mini version of your bank account.  You place money in an account which you can then use to pay for goods and services from participating retailers.  The added protection these sites offer is in limiting your exposure to theft and fraud.  When making purchases you do not need to provide your financial details, just your PayPal details.  All your normal finances are protected and you have a limited exposure to the monies in your PayPal account.