More silly credit card security

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After posting about the insecurity of credit card activation schemes, I remembered another pointless security "feature" that’s coming into vogue now. When I use my cards at some gas stations, I’m asked to enter my billing zip code.

Supposedly this is to keep the bad guys from using a stolen or lost card to buy gas. Credit cards don’t have a PIN number or any other secret code, so the use of a zip code was apparently dreamed up as a pseudo-secret code.

It seems to me that the most common way a physical card winds up in the hands of the bad guys is if it’s in a wallet that’s lost or stolen. And in that wallet, right next to the credit card, you can usually find a driver’s license. Which of course, has your zip code on it.

William Chapman
April 23, 2008 2:31 PM

Pseudo-secrete credit card code? I don't think so! I agree, I have also noticed the same thing happens when you rent a movie at a Red Box. I haven't quite figured out why I am required to enter my zip code in order for the transaction to to processed. I will argue that in as much as the idea of entering your zip code could be effective in making sure that who ever is using the credit card is actually authorized to do so, the chances someone using your credit card for purchases at a Red Box for example or at a gas station that requires you to enter a zip code at the pump is very, very small. Lets face it, if you were to loose your credit card, it would probably would have been lost together with an ID of some kind that you keep along with the credit card in your purse, bag... etc. So asking for zip code wouldn't necessarily prevent an unauthorized user of the credit card to successfully use it. It seems as though who ever came up with this idea is operating on the idea of just being able to help at least one identity theft victim our of a million.

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