Shop online with a virtual credit card number

Shop online with a virtual credit card number

When it comes to online shopping, can you keep your credit card number a secret?

For those of you who dread putting your card information in those little boxes, there are actually banks, and even an app, which let you shop but keep your real credit card number private.

"It's almost at the click of a button, very simple," said shopper Thao.

How did she do it?  By using "virtual" credit card numbers requested from her bank.

"Anyone that I have talked to about this product is not aware that it exists," she said.

The temporary numbers are linked to your actual credit card account, but when you go to pay, you just enter the temporary digits in the checkout box and complete your purchase. Your real card is charged, but your real number never appears online.

"The temporary numbers limit fraud, pure and simple," Doug Johnson with the American Bankers Association explained.

"The best use of a temporary credit card number is a one-time use, so a really short window so it can't be used multiple times or over an extended period of time."

Most temporary numbers can be used anywhere you don't need a physical card to be swiped. And that's why using one in a store could be a difficult sell.

"You've got to convince the clerk that there's a different number than the numbers that's on the card they want to use in order to do the purchase," Johnson said.

Major banks like Citi and Bank of America offer temporary credit card numbers. And now there's an app called "Blur" which lets you shop online without revealing your real card number.

Experts say while temporary account numbers can thwart cyber thieves, remember, all banks have zero liability policies if criminals ring up fraudulent purchases on your card.

"One of the most effective ways to reduce fraud is really just to pay close attention to your statements making sure that there are any unauthorized transactions and if there are you refute those transactions quickly and efficiently," said Robert Siciliano of Intel Security.

Bank of America and Citi say returning items purchased with a temporary credit card number works the same way you'd return something you bought with your actual credit card.

It doesn't matter if the temporary card has expired the return can still be credited to your actual account.

As always keep your receipt and purchase info for proof.

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