BOSTON (CBS) – Whether you are shopping online or in a store, every time you hand over your credit card, the retailer is storing all kinds of personal information. As we learned from the Target breach, there is no guarantee that any of that information is safe from hackers.
It’s a lesson Stewart Fuller learned the hard way. “They charged everything from bus fare, plane fare, computer products, and stuff like that,” he said. He spent money and time replacing cards, paying late fees and checking his credit report. “This has got to stop. There has got to be a better way,” he said.
After some research, Stewart found his answer at Abine, a Boston-based startup. “Our service is called Do Not Track Me and it works by giving you unlimited email addresses, credit card numbers and personal mobile phone numbers,” explained Abine co-founder, Rob Shavell.
Every time you make a purchase, Do Not Track Me creates a one-time use credit card number on your phone with the exact amount of the purchase. The transaction is linked to your real account, but when you are done, so is the virtual card. If the number gets into the wrong hands, there is no way for them to get to your money. “I can purchase what I want, when I want and I don’t have to worry, is my card safe?” Stewart explained.
There is no actual card; you just hand over your phone and the merchant types in the number. Some store clerks may find it a bit unusual, but Shavell told us that most customers have not had a problem.
If you are someone who prefers to have a card in hand, you may soon be able use an electronic card with the world’s first programmable magnetic strip. Dynamics, Inc., out of Pennsylvania, has come up with multiple account cards that switch with the touch of a button. They are also working on a hidden card. It requires cardholders to punch in a code every time they make a purchase. The code changes to keep the card safe from hackers.
According to Trevor Hughes, the president of the International Association of Privacy Professionals, these types of innovations are a great start to figuring out how to solve a problem that remains a very real threat. “I think it’s clear that we will have better security in the future. We have to,” he said. “The question for most organizations is not whether a breach will happen, but when.”
Do Not Track Me is available now for about five dollars a month. The company behind the programmable card hopes to have them ready for consumers soon.