With the high rise in crime rates, virtual account numbers are the best way to protect yourself from credit card fraud. A virtual account number is a substitute for your actual credit card account number and it is expiable. It works like a virtual credit card. You can use the virtual account number when interacting with merchants while keeping your real account number out of site.
Virtual account numbers are limited to a certain number of transactions only. This is an upside and a downside at the same time. An upside in this sense, if a hacker stole your virtual account number, he can only make a limited number of transactions, usually one.
What is a Virtual Account Number?
A virtual account number is a temporary token or account that is used in place of a real account number. You can use a virtual account number to make a purchase. It is safe since it keeps your real account number out of site, thereby securing your real account.
How Virtual Account Numbers Work
Virtual account numbers work almost the same way as real account numbers. A customer has to have a credit card account with an issuing bank. Before making a purchase, the customer requests a virtual account number from the issuing bank.
The issuing bank then generates a temporary account number in place of the real account number. The customer then uses the virtual account number generated by the issuing bank to make a purchase.
After the purchase, funds are transferred from the account of the buyer (cardholder) to that of the merchant through the VAN. Once the purchase is complete or after a specified duration, the virtual account number expires.
Credit Cards that Offer Virtual Account Numbers
To ensure the safety of cardholders, some credit card providers have come up with credit cards with virtual account numbers.
Services like Chase, Discover, and American Express used to offer virtual account numbers but discontinued them because not enough people were using them.
Today, there are only a few credit card virtual accounts numbers. They include:
Capital One card provider is offering credit card virtual numbers to their cardholders. Capital One has a service known as Eno which is a virtual assistant. It offers features necessary to create virtual account numbers for all Capital One cardholders.
You can lock and unlock your virtual account number. Each credit card virtual account number works for a single online merchant only. You can access Eno virtual assistant through Capital One online banking, mobile apps, and web-browsers extensions.
Citi is the other credit card with a virtual account number. You can access it by just logging into your account and then searching for Citi virtual account number.
You can generate a virtual account number online, set a spending limit and expiration date. After that, a CVV or CVC will be generated for you.
Once you want to make a purchase, you will just type your virtual account number and then the 3-digit code when prompted to do so. Even when you are making online purchases, do the same thing.
Benefits of a Virtual Account Number
There are several benefits you will reap from using a virtual account number. They include:
- Safeguards your real account. Virtual account number insulates your real account from data breach fallouts. This ensures that hackers cannot access your real account or linked accounts and as such, they can’t hack.
- Manage subscriptions. Many subscriptions tend to roll over and sometimes one can forget he or she has active subscriptions yet continue paying for them unaware. With a virtual account number, you can set an expiry of your virtual account and avoid subscription rollovers.
- Avoid billing errors. You can set limits for routine bills and if you are overcharged, then it is easy to know.
- Shopping on unfamiliar sites. If you are about to shop on an unfamiliar site, then it is best to use a virtual account number. This can avoid the risk of exposing your real account to the potential danger of online fraud.
Read: Disposable virtual cards
Downsides of Virtual Card Account Numbers
While virtual account numbers are a great way to protect yourself from credit card fraud, they have some limitations. They include:
- Difficult to access. Virtual account numbers may not work on mobile and you may need a desktop or laptop to access it. It is because virtual account numbers need browser extensions to function.
- Virtual account numbers may not be ideal when you need to make a payment and collect your items at a later date. It is because when picking up the shopping, you will need to show your card to verify your identity. In this case, your credit card number won’t match.
Credit Card with Virtual Account Number
Credit card virtual numbers are not very common but are a great way to protect yourself from credit card fraud. Only two credit card issuers; Citi and Capital One are offering virtual account numbers. Previously, Chase, Discover, and American Express used to offer credit card virtual numbers but discontinued them because may people were not using the service.