Secret Stuff On The Web

Singer Michael Jackson, center, says goodbye to his idol, James Brown, at Brown's funeral in Augusta, Ga. Dec. 30, 2006.
AP Photo/Jeff Christensen
How'd you like to keep shopping on the web, but stop giving out your credit card number to every retailer who catches your eye?

American Express is betting a lot of e-shoppers will answer with a resounding "Yes!" and beat a path to its door to use a new product which allows customers to shop without entering credit card numbers on the web.

CBS News Correspondent Dan Raviv reports that American Express will offer a new service in which card holders will have the option of using one-time use "disposable" card numbers when making purchases on web sites.

The charges will eventually be applied to your real credit card number but you won't have to type those numbers in.

Most e-commerce sites are already encrypted to protect sensitive personal and financial information from prying eyes. But many consumers still worry that a hack attack could spell trouble.

Internet analyst Preston Dodd, of Jupiter Communications, tells CBS News that buying online actually carries less risk than say, charging a meal in a restaurant, where someone might steal your credit card number.

But he says many consumers do worry, nonetheless, and for that reason, American Express' new product is on target.

Dodd calls it a "powerful one-two punch of security and privacy."

He says the system would offer improved "security, because the temporary number is used once and then thrown away, so there's no incentive for hackers " to try to obtain lists of the temporary, single transaction customer numbers.

Privacy would also be increased, says Dodd, who points out that temporary numbers don't reveal "buying and browsing patterns."

American Express spokeswoman Molly Faust says the new disposable numbers system, called Private Payments, will be available within the next few weeks.

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