Card Tricks

Wired had a pretty good article about preventing identity theft. This sort of thing predates the Internet by many decades. It happened to me when someone stole my mail, including my bank statement, some 30 years ago and tried to cash bad checks made out to me, using a fake ID. He happened to use the same bank branch I used and was caught immediately.

There is one more tip I think is worth mentioning: Your credit card company may be able to issue you a temporary credit card number linked to your real account number. This feature is provided by several large US and foreign banks through a company called Orbiscum. Depending on the bank, you can limit the time the number can be used and the amount that can be charged. It can also be restricted to a single transaction, so that once the transaction is complete, your credit card number is useless to anyone else. Consider the one-time use technique when dealing with unknown or dodgy vendors.

2 thoughts on “Card Tricks”

  1. -One-time-use credit-card numbers are a good idea, not merely for special occasions but for routine use. I think that accounts with such features may already be available in Europe (perhaps other readers could confirm).

    Bruce Schneier argues that most credit-card fraud could be prevented by passing laws to make credit-card issuers solely liable for fraudulent charges. Currently issuers have little incentive to be careful about whom they issue credit to, since merchants, and thus indirectly customers, eat any losses.

    -More generally, as the Wired article suggests, many businesses have an interest in perpetuating the current system in which individuals have no way to claim or buy ownership of valuable private information about themselves.

  2. On general principles, you name should not be associated with your actual address. I ghost address for mail (or a commercial box) helps. Also, you can opt your name out of the mix with the credit companies (like experion).

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