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Since 1st March, 1999
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You’ve stumbled upon a rare edition of Tolkien’s The Hobbit on eBay and, the bibliophile that you are, you know you must grab it before anyone else does. The only hitch is that you are too scared to use your credit card on the Internet.

On a travel site, you have found the perfect deal for your summer holiday and you know you won’t get a better one at the ticket counter. The only way you can book is online. And for that you need a credit card, something you don’t have.

There are people who persistently refuse to make online transactions, like our friend the bibliophile, because they fear their credit card number will be stolen. There are others who simply don’t believe in plastic.

The fear of your credit card number being stolen is not mere paranoia. There have been many instances of such online theft. This usually happens either because the computer user is using a pirated version of Windows, or he does not have adequate protection in the form of an Internet Security suite that protects him from viruses and online thieves. However, those of you who choose not to use a credit card in your daily life need not shy away from using one in the virtual world!

Just create a virtual credit card. It is both secure and easy. You can then use your virtual card number to buy anything online easily and without any fear. The best part is that you can fix a credit limit also.

To create a virtual card you need either a MasterCard or Visa credit card from your bank. You could even use your debit card. And you must be Internet banking enabled.

Creating a virtual credit card involves a simple three-step process. Go to your bank’s Internet site. See if it has the option for creating a virtual credit card. HDFC Bank has and it is called NetSafe. All it requires is a one-time registration. After that you can log in and generate any number of these temporary credit cards.

First you need to accept the terms and conditions (please read them carefully). Next key in your debit card number and your ATM PIN. If you are using a credit card you have to insert the three-digit number printed in the signature space on the back of most credit cards. It is called the CVV or Card Verification Value. On American Express Cards it is a four-digit code. Your date of birth and the date of expiry of your card also need to be filled in. Fill in your personal details and create a username and password of your choice. This completes the registration process and now you can log in to NetSafe.

Finally, you need to specify the account from which the money is to be debited, and the credit limit. That’s it. Your virtual credit card will contain your card limit, your unique one-time card number and finally the CVV.

The card lapses on use, thus preventing any theft. You must use your card within 24 hours of creating it. If you want to make more purchases online just make another virtual credit card by logging in to your NetSafe account.

Receiving payments

We have talked about buying securely using a virtual credit card. But what if you want receive payment for work done? For this PayPal is a very good option. Open an account by signing up in Link your virtual card to this account. Once your account is ready you can even make payments through PayPal.

A basic PayPal account is free. You can send funds to anyone with an e-mail address, whether they have a PayPal account or not. They’ll get a message from PayPal about the funds, and then they just have to sign up for their own account.

Funds transferred via PayPal reside in a PayPal account until the holder of the funds retrieves them or spends them. If the user has entered and verified the bank account information, the funds can be transferred directly into their account. For the money to be transferred to your bank account you will need the MICR code to identify your bank branch. You can get this information from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) website. Just search for “RBI micr number” and the first result will get you the relevant code.

Send in your computer- related problems to The solutions will appear soon.

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