Some time ago, we discussed several steps you can take and agencies you can use to help protect yourself from— or react to— instances of Internet fraud. (See http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2000/2000-10-16.htm#7 )
Most credit-card issuers already offer a good level of user-protection, including protection against all or most fraudulent charges that might be made on your card. The usual worst case, rarely applied anymore, is that you’re charged for the first $50 of fraudulent activity, no matter what the total is. But more often, if you’re truly a victim of fraud, the card issuer simply forgives the charges entirely.
I don’t use American Express myself, but reader Gene Plantz does, and he wrote to tell me of an interesting service Amex offers its users:
American Express has a new service that allows you to obtain a one-time use credit card number that can be used at any location that accepts AMEX. After that number is used, it expires (or after a predetermined period of time). All a cardholder needs to do before completing a sales transaction online is to go to the AMEX web site and request a one-time-use number and then use that number.
This prevents the cases where a merchant’s database is hacked (or given away) to outside forces. The number you used is dead after the transaction and you never used your real card number.