By Patrick | June 25, 2007
I was contacted the other day by a nice woman from The a.K.a Card. She was contacting me to inform me about their product that offers “Total Anonymity, Privacy and Freedom”: the a.K.a Card. In a nutshell what it is is a credit card you apply for and upon approval are sent a card that has two identities. One is your real identity that you used when you applied for the credit card and the other is one you make up and use when purchase items online. They have a pretty decent explanation here and their FAQ can be found here. Currently, a.K.a Card is running an introductory special where you can sign up for $9.99/month or $99.99/yr. Normally I think the price is $14.99/month.
So what does this service offer? When you go to shop online and you put in your credit card information, sometimes you don’t know just how securely the merchant on the other end will protect your information. Even if they do everything they can, sometimes mistakes are made, or accidents happen and servers and databases get hacked. With a.K.a Card when you buy online, you give the merchant your alternate identity with a totally different name, address and card number. The theory is that if or when the merchant is compromised, the attacker doesn’t walk away with your real credit card number or even real name.
So you’ve heard me talk about anonymous prepaid credit/debit cards before, however this is different. The goal with the a.K.a Card is to prevent identity theft. I see a couple problems though that I hope to get ironed out either by speaking with the folks at a.K.a Card or someone posting a comment on here.
The first problem is that if the merchant requires the billing and shipping address to match then that could be a problem if your address for the alternate identity is not an address where you can receive mail. For example, I set up my alternate address as 123 Nowhere St., but I want my goods sent to 505 Somewhere Ln., then that may not jive.
Second problem is the alternate name. I think it’s awesome you can assign any name you want for an alternate identity, but what if the address you’re receiving your merchandise at doesn’t know you by your fake name? For instance in the scenario presented on a.K.a’s website, “Melissa Miller” is telling us how she uses her card. She uses the pseudonym of “Jane Freedom” and she also uses her office address as the alternate address. Let’s say Melissa/Jane orders some brand new shoes from an online vendor and has them shipped to her work address since the merchant will only ship to the billing address. The shoes show up at her office and the mail room employees try to look up “Jane Freedom” in their directory seeing as how they don’t know what floor Ms. Freedom sits on. Well, guess what? There’s no Jane Freedom at that company. Hrm. You see where I’m going with this.
I really, really want to like all products out there that even remotely seem to help in the defense of identity theft and defense of privacy. However, do I see the a.K.a Card as something that I would pay $9.99/month for, much less $14.99/month? I’ll soon find out as I’m going to be applying for one later today (hopefully I’ll be approved) and then will attempt to test it out. I feel actually trying out the product I’m reviewing is the only fair way to write a decent review about it.
I’d really love to hear any comments from anyone else who looks at this product. What do you think? Is it worth it? Anyone got some great ideas on how to utilize this card?
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