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The a.K.a Card

By Patrick | June 25, 2007

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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?

Popularity: 13% [?]

Topics: Anonymity, Identity Theft | 292 Comments »

292 Responses to “The a.K.a Card”

  1. a.K.a Card Update | The Privacy Guy Says:
    June 28th, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    […] The a.K.a Card […]

  2. Ahmed Fazil Says:
    June 30th, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Dear Privacy Guy,

    My name is Ahmed and I am the CEO of the aKa Card. First and foremost, thanks for taking the time to review our product. It gives us a sense of achievement when The Privacy Guy does a write up on us!

    In your article you raise some serious issues associated with the aKa Card – fortunately these are questions we think we have answers for – let’s see if you agree with our answers!

    You also ask your readers to see if they can highlight any other issues with the card or other ways to use the card. This is exactly the type of consumer dialogue that we need to help us improve our product. We want this to be a product for consumers so all suggestions and observations are welcome.
    Now let’s address your observations one at a time.
    You write “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.”
    We are currently in discussions with some large shipping and express delivery companies where an aKa Card holder can use one of their many High St. store’s as an alternative address for delivery and/or billing. The goal is to allow multiple “billing” (and hence delivery) addresses. This enables the aKa Card holder to match the billing and delivery address to the type of product being delivered. We have not yet come to an agreement with this arrangement, but we are actively working on it. If you, or any of your readers, have a suggestion on that partner, then we are all ears!
    You also write “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.”

    This one we can answer now. In many order forms you can issue special shipping instructions such as “Please deliver to Jane Freedom care of Ms. Miller.” Because there is no connection between Ms. Miller and the aKa Card, no one knows what the relationship between the two is, so privacy is always maintained from the merchant’s perspective.

    I do hope your readers have more questions and suggestions, because as I said, this only helps us improve our product. Also, if your readers have suggestions as to how we can improve our website at http://www.akacard.com please let us know by clicking on “Contact Us” and leaving a message for us.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

  3. C. A. Young Says:
    August 12th, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Hello;
    I have a suggestion for the alternative shipping address that needs to be the same as the billing address when making purchases online. You could sign up for and use a mail forwarding service to receive an alternative address. By signing up for the mail fowarding service your items would be shipped to them then for a minimal fee you could have the items shipped to your real address. Mail forwarding services are very confidential and do not pass out any of your personal information. This would work good for people in other international destinations then the USA who want to purchase online from companies in the USA that will only ship to USA destinations. The a.k.a. card is what I need to purchase online and I intend to use a mail forwarding service to have all my online purchases shipped to and then have the mail forwarding service ship to me. The a.k.a card company may want to work with a few mail fowarding services as this option would work for many people who want to purchase products online through USA companies who will only deliver to USA address’s. Just a suggestion and I think I’ll give this one a go myself. Sounds like the aka card may just be the card I’ve been looking for!

  4. Ahmed Fazil Says:
    August 23rd, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Dear C.A. Young,

    Great idea. Thank you for suggesting it. We will definitely follow up.

    Warmest regards,

    Ahmed

  5. B. Weber Says:
    October 18th, 2007 at 7:20 am

    Mr. Fazil- Very intriging idea. I’m sending to my parents and elders today. Historically, had a.K.a. Card been developed earlier it might have given our eldes confidence to buy online. QUESTION: what % of ID theft is online based vs. physical card based?

  6. Clark Says:
    June 13th, 2008 at 7:33 am

    I was one of the first users of the a.K.a Card and “my” information was hacked at an online store. While I didn’t seek it out, this did provide a good test of the protection.

    I’m happy to say it worked as advertised. The thieves only got my a.K.a Card name, address and card information. I just had the bank cancel and re-issue my card to prevent any fraud. Subsequent credit report checks reveal no identity theft.

    You can see the letter at http://www.akacard.com. I hope the beta version is available soon.

  7. Laura Lee Says:
    September 2nd, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Many things I buy online are done as a gift anyway, so the billing and shipping addresses are most always different. That, however, does not solve the problem with not wanting the store to know my address (my mother-in-law, that’s okay). If the sender wants to send me something for buying from them, I don’t want perpetual store fliers and catalogs. Perhaps there could be an anonymous address from aka card that we could use. Like with the advertised card numbers, say an American Express commercial, are not live numbers, so the ‘filler’ address wouldn’t be live either. Might that help?

  8. Lisa Says:
    October 1st, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    The website doesn’t exist anymore.