In 2021, some well-known retailers were victims of hackers, resulting in data breaches for millions of Americans. The California DMV, CVS Health, Wegmans, Kroger, T-Mobile, Microsoft Exchange, Hobby Lobby, Facebook, Geico, FitBit, and Apple are just a few of the companies victimized last year.  Shopping online and housing your data there is a convenience most people aren’t ready to give up. Consider using virtual credit card numbers to thwart the hackers and add a layer of security to your online life. 

A virtual credit card number works similar to a chip credit card. It creates a one-time-use sequence of numbers or a token when shopping with an online merchant instead of entering your physical credit card number into the website.  If the website ends up getting hacked and credit card numbers are exposed, the virtual credit card number can’t be traced back to you personally. This online shopping method can protect your identity and prevent scammers and other thieves from getting your real credit card number to do their own shopping on your credit. Capital One offers a virtual credit card number through Eno, its virtual assistant. You download the Eno browser extension and register your Capital One credit card through Eno. When you’re ready to checkout, Eno creates a virtual credit card number for you to pay with. Eno can also store virtual card numbers for use again at the same merchant. Also: How to protect your personal data online If you’re a Citi card user, certain Citi credit cards have a virtual account number feature you can activate in the card benefits section of your online account. Each purchase made will show on your account state with the virtual number used to help you track transactions. Titanium Apple card users can access their Apple Pay account to find their virtual credit card numbers. This is especially useful when making purchases where Apple Pay is not yet an acceptable payment method. Like Chase and Wells Fargo, other credit card issuers allow users to create virtual credit card numbers in their digital wallets. They can be used to make purchases online with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.  American Express gives users the option for an instant card number on some credit cards, which can be loaded into your digital wallet for immediate use. You don’t have to wait until your physical card comes in the mail to do your shopping. If you’re unsure if your card issuer offers a virtual credit card number option, it’s best to ask them directly if this is an option for making secure payments. Like a chip credit card and virtual credit card, a digital wallet provides a one-time token or code to complete the transaction. Your credit card number and account information are hidden from the merchant and any potential hackers that can get data during a cyberattack. Not all digital wallets work the same, whether you use one from your credit card issuer, Apple Pay, Google Pay, or another app. Also: How business owners can protect their businesses from cybercrime