Lock Up Credit Card Safety with the coming Card Control App

by Justin Weinger on May 19, 2014

One of the most vulnerable points that credit cards have is that, since they are always “on”, they can always be used by criminals who somehow get access to their data. All a criminal has to do is hack into your credit card and they can quickly drain your bank account, and with the advent of the Internet they don’t even need your actual credit card to do it.

The question that many people have been asking for years, and more of late due to some of the big news stories like Target being hacked, is why can’t credit cards be turned “off”?

Well, one software company in San Jose, California may have just figured it out. Ondot Systems recently unveiled their new mobile app that lets you turn off your credit cards with a single touch of your smart phone screen. Their CardControl app lets you “lock” your credit card (or cards) until you want to use them and, when that time comes, make a purchase or withdraw cash by simply sliding your finger across your smart phone screen, instantly activating your card.

Vaduvur Bharghavan, the CEO and founder of the company, stated that “We created a way to let people use their mobile phone as a remote control for their existing credit and debit card”.

More than just a simple on or off switch however, the CardControl app will let credit card holders make the decision about where and when their credit cards can be used, or can’t.

OnDot’s executive vice president, Rachna Ahlawat, says that “We allow the user to customize the use of the card to the degree they want to,” adding “While the back-end technology is quite complicated, the user interface is very simple. All the operations in the app are just one tap away.”

Depending on what you like to do, you simply need to access various screens on the app that led to, for example, block specific types of transactions such as online purchases, cash advances or ATM withdrawals. A user could also stop specific transactions from happening at restaurants or gas stations.

Even more, someone using the CardControl app could limit card use to a specific geographic area or choose to use the “active around me” function, which compares the user’s actual location (using their smart phone’s GPS), to the location where the card is being used. If those two locations don’t match up perfectly, the pending credit card transaction won’t be approved.

The CardControl app can also limit the dollar amount that can be used on any single credit card transaction, and has a function that parents should enjoy as it gives them, as primary cardholders, control over secondary cards. Businesses will be able to use similar controls for their employees.

Gerri Detweiler, the director of consumer education at Credit.com, gave high marks to the new app. “I think this is a brilliant way for people to help protect themselves against card fraud,” she said, adding that”Even though the customer isn’t typically responsible for fraudulent charges, it’s a huge hassle when you’re dealing with fraud.”

One of the best benefits of the card as far as analysts are concerned is that if a person’s card is stolen they can immediately turn it off until they’ve had enough time to contact their bank or financial institution and get things straightened out, drastically reducing the chance that someone will fraudulently use their card.

CardControl won’t actually be available to the public but will be given away to customers by their financial institutions, processors and card issuers as an added benefit. For these institutions, the benefits of CardControl are evident as they will drastically cut their fraud losses.



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