Using ShopSafe Limits for iTunes to Prevent Fraud

iTunes LogoMy credit card was recently compromised, for the third time in 2 years. I understand sadly this is the world we live in and these things happen from time to time. But three times in 2 years after never having a problem before seems a bit excessive. I have two separate cards that were compromised, each time the card was never out of my physical possession, I was never notified that I was part of a larger data breach and I couldn't think of any suspicious incident. I'm very careful with my credit card security, always careful about where I use it, rarely allow retailers to save the number and I use cards for different things, one is primarily for local purchases and the other for online purchases. However, looking back the one common thread is that each card that was compromised at a time it was used for iTunes purchases. There have been several reports of iTunes accounts being compromised and unauthorized App purchases showing up on credit card bills, I've never noticed that. However, it still struck me as odd that each time the card was compromised it was the card associated with iTunes. I accept it may be completely coincidental, but at this point, I felt like I had to do something.

My bank offers a service called "ShopSafe" but other banks offer similar services under different names. This service allows you to create a virtual credit card number associated with your account with a specific credit limit for use with one merchant. You can set time limits and credit limits. In my case, I created a virtual card for use only on the iTunes store (which also works with App purchases from the Mac App Store as they bill from the same place) that expires in 12 months with a $150 spending limit. If I end up buying more than $150 worth of Apps, Music or Movies in a year I can adjust the limit (or, perhaps better, adjust my spending habits!) I can keep track of usage on my bank's website and the charges show up on my regular statement just like any other charge.

If a hacker gets ahold of my iTunes account, they're limited to $150 of damage. If this number is compromised, any charge to a merchant other than the iTunes store will be declined. I have no idea if this will do anything, but it does give me extra peace of mind.

If this is something that concerns you, you may want to check and see if your bank or credit card provider offers a similar service. I'm going to consider setting up ShopSafe limits for other merchants like Amazon or other frequently used services.