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What Is a Random Credit Card Number? By Russell Huebsch, eHow Contributor

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Random credit card numbers are either a huge, almost unstoppable risk to a consumer's account or a tool that keeps an account number nearly entirely concealed. The function of a random credit card number depends on how you use it. The best and legal way to use a random credit card number is as a way to hide a legitimate credit card number.

  1. As a Security Tool

    • Some banks are using random credit card number generators---or virtual credit card numbers---in lieu of actual credit card numbers. A typical random number generator creates a new, randomized card number linked to an account so the consumer can still use their line of credit. The consumer can set the expiration date on the number. Thus, a consumer can theoretically generate a new number for every purchase. This would keep the original credit card number safe and even if a thief were to acquire the random number, it would be useless once it expires.

    Brute Force Attacks

    • Lurking in the criminal underworld of the Internet are brute force credit card hackers. This type of criminal tests credit card numbers by hacking into a merchant's payment network and making small charges until one is accepted. Once a payment goes through, the hacker knows he has found a valid credit card number and can use it at any merchant he wants.

    Considerations

    • Credit card issuers and payment processors do not always offer virtual credit card numbers. As of 2011, Citibank and Discover are two of the largest banks to offer this service. PayPal has also attempted virtual cards in the past. If your bank offers this service, you still have to log into the website with an ID and password, so you must keep those safe too.

    Tip

    • You can never be too careful about using credit card numbers online. The Federal Trade Commission received eight million complaints of credit card theft in 2008 alone. Sign up for online statements, because a thief can intercept paper statements. If you still decide to keep a paper statement, rip it up so nobody can make out the account details when you throw it away. Set up transaction alerts if the bank allows it. You might, for example, ask for an alert to your phone for any transaction over $50. (see Resources).

    Russell Huebsch

    Russell Huebsch has written freelance articles covering a range of topics from basketball to politics in print and online publications. He graduated from Baylor University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.

    Resources

    Original article published on eHow.com

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