I’ve been an online shopper for decades, and in my case, as time that goes by, the more the balance shifts from B&M stores to online. I’m at the point now where I get almost everything online.
In an environment like that, I don’t know how anyone lives without virtual credit numbers. Sure, PayPal works for eBay and a limited number of other transactions, but that’s a relatively small percentage of online merchants and I find it to be a clunky interface anyway.
Before MBNA and ShopSafe, I used to average about one fraudulent transaction a month. I’d call my CC company and say, “What is this charge?”, and most of the time, they’d explain that it was for access to a porn site. I’d say, “But I didn’t access any porn site!” and they’d respond, “Sure you didn’t.” They’d take it off, but it was really annoying.
ShopSafe essentially eliminated that problem. As a bonus, I am sure that it’s saved my bacon in countless other ways…I’ve given out $1 SS numbers for many “All we need is your credit card number! We promise not to charge anything to it!” offers, and never lost a wink of sleep.
Plus it’s caught so many sleazy operators for me. Using the “create a number for recurring charges” feature, I’ve gotten email and phone calls essentially saying, "Hey! Your credit card was declined! (with the unspoken tagline “Deadbeat!”) It’s very satisfying to call or write back and say, “I’ve checked with my bank and everything is in order. Are you sure you didn’t try to put through a charge for a higher amount than usual?” and listen to the representative fumbling to admit that, yes, there was an unannounced increase or other upcharge.
Unfortunately, when BofA bought out MBNA, they clearly weren’t 100% behind the ShopSafe program. The first thing to go was mobile access, which, needless to say, was huge. Lack of a mobile app is probably the biggest flaw in the current BofA SS program.
Then they eliminated direct web access, so that the only way to get a virtual number is to sign on to Mobile Banking, click through a series of menus, and then open a kludgey stink bomb of a Flash app.
The other problem that’s been cropping up more and more often is SS numbers just not working, or more correctly, vendors just not accepting them. This has always been a problem, but it’s gotten worse over the past couple of years. There’s obviously some optional verification that merchants can use which virtual credit card numbers fail. I’ve never been able to figure out what it is. Perhaps merchants have gotten wise to them, the way they have to email services like Spamgourmet. Automatic rejection of spamgourmet addresses, regardless of which of their available domains you use, seems to now be “baked in” to many apps and programs.
For those of you using Capital One or Citi virtual numbers, how do they compare?