We’re advised not to use the same password across multiple online accounts, so why risk storing the same credit or debit card number with merchants when you shop? Over 3,800 data breaches were reported in the first half of 2019 alone, exposing more than 4.1 billion records, according to the Cyber Risk Analytics’ MidYear Report. With credit card fraud on the rise, a virtual card service offers one way for consumers to protect their financial information online—think of it as a password manager for your credit or debit card.

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What Is a Virtual Card?

Also known as a temporary or pseudo card, a virtual card is a debit or credit card number that can be digitally generated using a website or app like Privacy. Virtual cards connect directly to your bank, allowing you to transact with your funding source without exposing your real credit and debit card numbers to vulnerable online systems.

The Benefits of a Virtual Card

There are several advantages to using a card that lives online. Should you notice a fraudulent transaction or fall victim to a data breach, you won’t have to go through the trouble of setting up a new bank account or ordering another physical card (not to mention the headache of updating all your recurring payments). Just close the compromised virtual card without affecting your actual bank account or current subscriptions.

As another layer of security, a Privacy online card automatically locks to the first merchant it’s been used to transact with; if that merchant is breached, your card details will not work with other vendors. You can also shop using a fake billing name and address to limit the amount of personally identifiable information (PII) you share online.

Having the ability to create unique card numbers at will also means you won’t be at the mercy of sneaky vendors, hidden subscription fees or overcharges. In a recent survey, CreditCards.com found that 35 percent of 1,002 adults polled in the United States unknowingly signed up for a membership with an automatic payment plan.

With Privacy, users can take direct control of their spending by creating single use cards, and setting maximum transaction limits on a per charge, per month or per year basis. Pause or delete cards in real time, and block merchants from automatically rebilling you without jumping through their customer service hoops.

At Privacy, we believe virtual cards are an indispensable tool for protecting your online security and taking back control of where and how you spend. Try our free virtual cards here.