There’s a new technique that can make paying online more convenient, more private and more secure. It’s called a masked credit card and it can let you make payments online without revealing such details as your address, credit card number, email address and your name.
“Our vision of the future is that a large amount of people whenever they are making a transaction have the choice of whether to make the transaction private or not,” Rob Shavell told Forbes. Shavell is the CEO and cofounder of a company called Abine. Abine is testing masked credit card  services that it plans to sell to the public.
Abine is offering a service called MaskMe that creates a sort of false identity to cover your tracks online. To promote the service Abine is waiving the $5 MaskMe charge during the holiday season.
You can use Abine’s address and any name you want for your card.
MaskMe apparently works so well, Shavell told Forbes, that tens of thousands of people have signed up for the service. He said that many of his customers were those who have been victimized by hackers.
How Masked Credit Cards Work
So how do masked credit cards work anyway? Actually, the concept behind them is pretty simple. Here’s a description of how you would make a transaction using Abine’s MaskMe:
- You would go to a website and begin making a transaction like normal.
- MaskMe creates a virtual credit card number with a unique number and security code just for that transaction.
- The virtual card has a limit of the amount of that transaction only. That means no other charges can be made to it so if a hacker steals that card number he can’t use it to make charges – and your identity is not tied to it.
- MaskMe charges your credit card, debit card or bank account for the amount of the virtual card transaction, but without your financial information ever being given out.
- MaskMe gives you the ability to cancel the virtual credit card anytime you want.
- You get the choice of whether to use masked credit cards  or real credit cards.
- Abine’s premium service will also create a fake email account to further cover your tracks.
Of course, for the service to work, you must first give Abine your financial information and personal data. But you don’t have to give it to anyone else, ever again.
Who would use a masked card? Lots of people: someone who does not want their identity stolen by a hacker or who does not trust a particular company, for instance. Data breaches are common at even big-name companies.
Protecting Your Financial Data Online
Many of us will shop online this Christmas season, and for those who live in rural areas it is often cheaper and more convenient than driving to the city. Unfortunately online shopping can expose your data to cyber predators.
Abine is one of several companies that offer services designed to protect your privacy online. Some financial institutions including Bank of America, Citibank and Discover Financial Services offer similar services – but theirs don’t allow users to give a different name and address.