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Card Controls Let You Control Credit Card Security With Your Cellphone

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- A Bay Area company says the key to keeping hackers away from your credit card information may be your cellphone.

It's called card controls and it's pretty simple.

Using your bank's app, you decide where the card can be used.

Whether it's a certain city, geographical area or even a certain radius around your phone's location.

If the transaction is within the approved area, you're good.

But if your card is used elsewhere, it's declined.

Rachna Ahlawhat is the founder of Ondot Systems, a startup based in San Jose.

"It's a step in stopping the bad guys…I'm more in control of where it can be used. So my card becomes less usable for a fraudster than a card which is open for use anywhere," Ahlawat said.

Ahlawhat says crooks typically use a stolen card about seven times before the bank detects fraud.

But with card controls, customers are notified after the first try.

The 3,000 banks and credit unions around the country that now use the technology could prevent millions of dollars in theft.

The company gave us a demo of one of their most powerful features called "my location" where the card only works if the transaction happens near the phone.

To test it out, we had Ahlawhat try to get cash at an ATM in north San Jose, while her phone was moved to east San Jose, about 8 miles away.

Ondot logs the location from the nearest cell phone tower then denies the transaction, and pushes an alert to the phone.

Ondot says a radius of several miles, for now, is the right balance of security and battery life.

Ahlawat said, "And we have optimized our algorithm to a point when there is no significant drain in the battery, but the location of the user is still precise that you can apply these location risk controls."

Card controls is the latest Silicon Valley invention to help you keep up, and maybe even stay one-step ahead, of the bad guys.

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