Home > Credit Cards > Discover Bids Farewell to Disposable Card Numbers

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Discover announced this week that it will end its program that gives consumers a disposable credit card number for each online purchase they make, saying the security measure is no longer needed now that the card network has improved security in other ways.

The company has “added security measures to protect customers from fraudulent use of their cards both online and offline,” Discover said in an email to cardholders, as reported by The Consumerist. “In light of these increased security measures we will be discontinuing the Secure Online Account Numbers program effective September 8, 2011.”

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The decision will not take a bite out of consumers’ wallets, since Discover guarantees that cardholders are never held responsible for fraudulent purchases, the company said in its email.

The move seems to come at an odd time, however since the rest of the banking industry is moving in the direction of more temporary passwords and one-time-only PINs as ways to limit access to accounts by hackers and crooks. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council recently passed new rules requiring banks to take new steps to make sure that online transactions are secure.

[Related article: Safer Online and Mobile Banking In the Works]

“It’s too bad,” says Gerri Detweiler, Credit.com’s consumer credit expert. “For customers who use that service, it definitely feels more secure.”

With the Discover program, card holders sign into their online Discover accounts, press a button labeled “Create Secure Account Number,” and they receive a number that they can copy and paste into other web sites to buy things online.

That protects consumers in two ways. First, it adds another layer of defense against hackers, who currently must crack into the user’s computer and then into their Discover account to view the temporary number. It also prevents retailers from setting up an auto-billing subscription that runs in perpetuity, since the number expires after a certain amount of time, Detweiler says. For more details on the soon-to-expire program, check out Discover’s web site.

Most other credit card networks and issuers still offer a service for issuing temporary PINs or card numbers to disguise consumers’ personal information says Beverly Harzog, Credit.com’s credit card expert.

“This is an unusual move by Discover,” Harzog says. “Most other issuers have this feature. It’s a good thing to have, especially since cyber-crime is only going to increase.”

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Image: Al Muya, via Flickr.com

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