Most people are familiar with “burner” cell phones, which are pre-paid phones that are used and then tossed out. The next trend in credit and debit cards may be “burner” or virtual cards that provide consumers with a proxy account number for one-time only use.
Industry analysts say burner cards may solve many fraud concerns for online shoppers. After several high-profile data breaches at major retailers hit the news, many consumers lost confidence that their personal and credit card information is safe with commercial vendors and retail sites. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found 64% of Americans have been affected by some type of cybertheft of personal information.
Burner cards can offer consumers greater privacy and peace of mind. The service allows users to create unique virtual cards for each transaction by registering with the service site just once. The service site links to the consumer’s bank account so purchases can be handled as debit or credit transactions.
Each burner card has its own unique account number, expiration date and card verification number. The card becomes associated with the first merchant for which it is used, so the same account number cannot be used to make purchases at other online sites. Burner cards also can have cash limitations set to control spending.
For greater privacy, consumers can establish a fake name for their transactions, allowing them to disassociate themselves from their past transactions and limit the amount of information big-data marketers can compile on their purchase histories.
Burner cards aim to protect personal and financial information from cyberattacks against retailers. The cards must be linked to a bank account, but burner card providers say they take extraordinary precautions to protect consumers’ bank account and financial information.
Industry analysts believe burner cards will take off quickly with younger consumers who have become more concerned about sharing personal information on online sites. Many have experienced monetary losses after having their personal information stolen in data breaches.
 “Americans and Cybersecurity,” a study by Kenneth Olmstead and Aaron Smith, the Pew Research Center, Jan. 26, 2017. Article and full report available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/2017/01/26/americans-and-cybersecurity/
 “This ‘burner credit card’ gives online shoppers privacy peace of mind,” by Ryan Chiavetta, IAPP blog, International Association of Privacy Professionals, Sept. 12, 2016. Available at: https://iapp.org/news/a/this-burner-credit-card-gives-online-shoppers-privacy-peace-of-mind/
 “This ‘burner credit card’ gives online shoppers privacy peace of mind,” by Ryan Chiavetta, IAPP blog, International Association of Privacy Professionals, Sept. 12, 2016. Available at: https://iapp.org/news/a/this-burner-credit-card-gives-online-shoppers-privacy-peace-of-mind/ and illustrated by the security protocols outlined on provider Privacy.com’s website at: https://privacy.com/security
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