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The Real Deal: Virtual Credit Card Numbers

Updated: Thursday, April 10 2014, 01:52 PM EDT

ALBANY -  A new poll released on Tuesday by Siena College seems to show that shoppers are going to buy more holiday gifts and spend more per gift this year compared to last.  The pollsters say it's not going to be a spending frenzy but an upward trend.  Between Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many of us will be shelling out a lot of cash over the next week. 

Some shoppers live for the thrill of the chase, getting to all the good deals on Black Friday just helps to put them in the holiday spirit but there are also those who would rather be doing anything but shopping in a crowded mall. 

The point-click-and-pay approach is popular but there are still some shoppers who get weary about entering their credit card number on each and every site they want to buy something from.   "I guess I worry about someone hacking the computer or getting my information," says Caroline Montorio of Albany.  Jim Baker agrees, "We're from an older generation, we're not quite 100% comfortable with it but we do it because the savings are great," he tells CBS6. 

Many big banks now offer a way to keep ID thieves at bay: virtual credit card numbers.  Basically, your credit card company will provide you with a 16-digit number and a 3-digit verification code via email that you can use when checking out online.  The virtual number is tied back to your own account but depending on how you set it up it can only be used once, or on a fixed day, or only on a specific website. 

"It sounds like a pretty good idea, it does, I think I'd feel safer with a temporary card, where at the end of my shopping time, it's expired and over with," says Montorio.   It's something to consider if you're buying from an unfamiliar website.  Most banks don't charge extra for virtual credit card numbers but in some cases you may be doubling your efforts.  "I have what's called a wallet protection plan that assures me of nothing more than $50 liability should anything happen," says Baker who added that was probably enough to give him the piece of mind he needed when shopping online. 

It's best to check with your credit card company to see what protections are on your card before deciding whether a virtual credit card number could be something helpful for your holiday shopping. 

The Real Deal: Virtual Credit Card Numbers

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Hello and thank you for stopping by The Real Deal web-page! I'm hoping you'll find some useful information here. I (Jennifer Lewke) will be updating this page daily to bring you the latest news on anything and everything that may impact your wallet. Whether it's a bad business trying to rip you off, a contractor who took your money and ran, the government wasting your tax dollars, or a telemarketer who just won't stop calling, my goal is to uncover it and hopefully prevent it from happening again!

On the right-hand side of this page, you'll see a section labled "Links" --these will all take you to websites for organizations that help protect consumers. Most of the groups have the authority to fine or shut down bad businesses so it's important to file the proper complaints to get some action.

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