The Final Credit Card or the Last Word In Trolls?

Category: Finance

Credit card security is a “trending topic” these days. Large thefts of customers’ card data are making headlines with increasing frequency. Cardholders are anxious, and tired of reacting to each security breach. Is the coming Final Card the answer?

Is The Final Credit Card for Real?

Where there is pain, there is always opportunity for trolls to amuse themselves. Behold the “Final” Credit Card, the last credit card you will ever need – or see, in my estimation. The Final card is not available now, but you can provide an email address to be notified when it comes to market. Before I go any further let me get this out of the way:

Recently I published an article Ten Ways to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft. Consider this Number 11: DO NOT GIVE THESE GUYS YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS!

The story about the origin of the Final card is the first clue that someone is pulling your leg. A guy goes on vacation in a remote corner of Europe. An unnamed U.S. retailer suffers a massive theft of customers’ credit card data. So an unnamed credit card company deactivates the guy’s card with no warning whatsoever, leaving him fundless in the wilderness. Bears would have gnawed his bones if the group he was traveling with hadn’t lent him a few Euros.
Credit Card Troll

But that doesn't happen. Visa doesn’t abruptly cancel millions of cards just because a store was hit by hackers. I still have the same card that I've used at Target, Home Depot, and other retailers where massive breaches have occurred. Card-issuing banks that want to keep customers don’t do it, either.

The second clue about the legitimacy of the Final card is the curious absence of surnames from the company’s C-level executives. “CTO Matt and CEO Aaron,” indeed! There is a Matt Reed who has been spamming Pinterest with Finalcard.com ads. Take a look at his profile picture and tell me if you would give him your real email address, let alone the Social Security Number required by any credit application.

Reed bills himself as a “creative technologist,” just the sort of guy who would come up with a troll like the “Final card.” Aaron may be his cat, for all we know; he looks like the kind of guy who would have a cat and name it “Aaron.”

Get Your Red Hot Promotional Offers Here!

Clue #3: Both the "Press" and "Contact" links on the Final Card website are simply "mailto" links that prompt you to send them an email. Could this be another way to extract your email address, and use it for who knows what? Will you get spammed as a result? Final's Privacy Policy page says this: "if you’ve given us your email address, we may send you promotional email offers on behalf of other businesses…" So, yes, they "may."

The sales pitch for the Final card touches many of the pain points that cardholders feel in this era of data breaches. When they learn that hackers may have your card data, many cardholders rush to cancel cards, wait a week or more for new ones, and then have to update their card details with Amazon, Paypal, BestBuy.com, and untold other merchants who store card details.

The Final card expresses a wish-list of consumer-oriented features that would eliminate much of the anxiety about using plastic and putting one’s card details out in so many different places.

It purportedly will generate a unique card number for each merchant with whom you do business. If that merchant suffers a data breach, its card number is changed automatically (after the merchant makes the breach known, presumably). There is no need for the cardholder to trouble himself about it.

If you’ve ever had difficulty ending a recurring charge to a credit card, the Final card will eliminate that suffering too. Just cancel that merchant’s card number, leaving all other relationships with merchants undisturbed.

Failure to Launch: The Trailer

Final's FAQ says the service is slated to launch in Beta the first quarter of 2015, but that "depends on many variables." One of those variables is whether people will trust the security of their credit card to a guy in a pirate hat and dark glasses. More to the point, would you use a credit card that's still in Beta test mode?

Let me repeat: In my opinion, the Final card is at best a gag, a joke, a troll. “CTO Matt and CEO Aaron” may not exploit the email addresses they collect. Perhaps they just want to count the number of fish who bite on their preposterous bait. If they are for real, I'll eat crow, but I won't feel bad about warning against what certainly looks like a flimsy cover for a troll or a clever prelude to a phishing expedition.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "The Final Credit Card or the Last Word In Trolls?"

Posted by:

hammondmike
20 Oct 2014

I just received a letter from my bank asking me to come into the bank for a new debit card. MasterCard is reissuing their cards and mine is useless after the end of the month. I signed-up for the Home Depot alert service, but the whole thing must be bigger than they are letting on to the public. It will be interesting to see how far this all develops!!!


Posted by:

Bengt Sjoberg
20 Oct 2014

There are already "virtual" cards that will do exactly this. I believe American Express is one of those companies.There you will find the disposable credit card numbers


Posted by:

Rocky Perkins
20 Oct 2014

I do identify with the guy traveling in Europe. I was traveling the US with a Bank of America card (and fortunately had another credit card with me) when BOA abruptly canceled my card (exp date 11/16). I tried to buy gas and the gas pump kept spitting my card out. I called and BOA said there was "questionable" activity and a possible breach on my card so they changed the number and issued a new card (without warning of course). IT DOES HAPPEN!


Posted by:

Matt
20 Oct 2014

I noticed in their FAQs they mention Coin, which is a real thing and of which I am a backer. I'm not saying their mention of Coin makes them legit, but it was just something I noticed that I thought was interesting. This does look a little TGTBT, but if it isn't just a gag and it does come to fruition, it could be a good thing.


Posted by:

Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries
20 Oct 2014

I have to say that the picture of Matt Reid puts me in mind of Jimmy Wales.

A search doesn't turn up a lot of information, but I don't need another card, so it makes no difference to me.


Posted by:

MmeMoxie
20 Oct 2014

I have had my Debit Card, from my Credit Union, changed twice, due to Data Breaches, with a certain group of numbers. No one else, that have a Debit Card on my account, had to change theirs, only mine. It is true, that my card is the one that is mostly used, so, my Debit Card Number, easily could have been in the group of numbers, compromised.

Now, this all occurred several years ago and hasn't happened, in about 8+ years. Luckily, there were no questionable charges, on my Bank Account, which I was mighty happy about. Now, my Credit Union happens to use Visa, for both their Credit Cards and Debit Cards. Plus, I have been using my Credit Union, since, January 1985!!!
those have been the only 2 breaches, in all that time.

However, computer hacking/cracking is so more advanced today, then it was back then and computer hacking, was pretty good, in those days, too. We simply MUST learn, how to protect ourselves, to the best of our ability. I even have protection, on my SmartPhone, simply because, it can "access" way too many, important financial accounts. In reality, I refused to use, Easy Pass, because I didn't trust the concept.


Posted by:

InLionSk8r
20 Oct 2014

I fully agree with your assessment that the whole thing smells a tad phishy. Besides - all of those things mentioned and more, have been readily available for some time through several legitimate security companies. Last time I checked, Abine had a list of secure stuff... disposable purchase-cards, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc. Does anyone know how their prices and ease-of-use compare to other comparable services? (Maybe fodder for a future article, Bob?) Am thinking it's about time for my wife & I to look into some of these kind of things, as the regular ones are seemingly becoming too easily compromised.


Posted by:

BaliRob
20 Oct 2014

Just like PayPal - "We notice unusual activity on your account recently" - yes, bloody yes - seven years continuous use purchasing medical products for my diabetes (test strips)with deliveries to the same Bali address - liars, liars, liars and Ebay saying "We cannot pay the vendors as you are using the SAME EMAIL ADDRESS as you use for PayPal"

100% credit rating (status) and the cash with which to pay the bill are no longer the criteria needed when the US does not wish to accept overseas' Mastercard anymore. What's wrong with the American banking system - too frightened to trade with the rest of the world since 2008?


Posted by:

Herb
20 Oct 2014

Thanks, Bob, for continuing to alert us to the constant exposure we have to fraud, and the seemingly endless ways the bastards have to entice us to be stupid. I really appreciate the effort you put in to be educated on this stuff, and then sharing it with us.


Posted by:

MikieB
20 Oct 2014

Chipped cards are all the rage now, but may be more vulnerable than the striped ones. It's easy for someone to get close to you with an electronic devise and read the data stored on the chip. Bang, there goes your information and you didn't even know anything about it. I worked at a major airport in Chicago, it starts with an O, and before I started there I got an aluminum lined wallet. It would set off the metal detectors, but would block electronic card thieves. Those electronic readers will also read passport chips too, use caution.


Posted by:

Chris
20 Oct 2014

@ Rocky: You are generally supposed to notify your card issuer if you are travelling (especially out of the country), so they know the charges are really you. Otherwise, it is highly likely that your card issuer's computer algorithm will freeze or cancel your card because it thinks your card has been compromised.

@ hammondmike: There is a new security feature on the new cards, a much harder to fake / clone RFID chip for the 'tap-to-pay" system. Not really new - standard around the world for years now. New to most card issuers in the US. With the old system, in cases of fraud (i.e. bogus charges on your card), the banks eat the loss. As of Nov 1, any merchant who does not have a terminal that is capable of using the new security chip, will be the one to eat the loss in the case of fraud. If the merchant has the new machine, the banks still eat the loss. Concurrently, many banks are requiring their customers to get new cards (at the bank's expense) with the chips in them, to cut down on the amount they lose to fraud (I believe that number is in the billions nationwide). Some banks are changing card numbers on the new cards, others are not.

Both of these issues are a matter of banks trying to cut down on the amount of $$ they lose to fraud. Fraud losses are an operating expense, which are passed on to the customer. Where they have already implemented the new system, they have seen large reductions in credit card fraud.

Reports of it being easy to steal your card info with an RFID receiver walking through a crowd are grossly exaggerated. The RFID range is measured in mm, and making a clone card requires expensive equipment most crooks don't have enough education to use. Any hotel clerk can clone a mag-stripe card. Also, this system allows the consumer to set a PIN number (like your ATM card), and if you do so, you tap the card on the terminal, then enter your 4-digit PIN. Without the PIN, a cloned card (or stolen real card) is useless. Some card issuers are allowing you to require the pin for online merchants, and may even allow you to set a different pin for different merchants.

The problem with throwaway card numbers, is there are a limited number of 15-16 digit numbers. And not all 15 or 16 digit numbers are valid card numbers. Eventually, they will run out of numbers...


Posted by:

Stephen FREESTAINTON
21 Oct 2014

Not all credit cards are run by trustworthy folk: as I am vividly reminded by your tale of a failing credit card in Europe!

Back in late June 1991, two good friends and I flew "over there" for a once-in-a-lifetime motorbiking trip across USA.
We three Englishmen flew into Los Angeles; with only a return flight booked from New York some three weeks later.
We planned to buy and ride big familiar Japanese motorbikes from LA to NY; stopping at KoA campsites; and following what we could find of the historic Route 66 along the way. { I remember that Summer was just before motorcycle helmets became compulsory in some States, including California; though most Eastern States already required helmets.}

Of course, we had neither mobile phones nor internet in those days; and no radio or TV, as we were camping each night: so we hadn't heard any news for over a week by the end of June, when my BCCI credit card failed to pay a bill, in a roadside eating-house in Colorado or Kansas.
I remember several "security" heavies gathering around us; until the "management" found out the "Bank of Credit and Commerce International's assets had been frozen: a few days afore its complete worldwide lock-down on 5th July.
{ Please note that a bank failing was almost unheard of back then: unlike the multiple collapses around 2012: so the story wasn't believed by anyone at first.}

I happened to be the only one with a credit card; and nobody had any dollars to speak of. But fortunately, I had thought to stash away a second credit card in an inside pocket: for use "in an emergency". What might have happened to us biker Brits, so far from home; if we didn't have this back-up card, for us all to use to complete our epic jaunt!

We did get safely to New York; and U-Hauled our self-dismantled-and-crated Kawasaki and Suzuki bikes to the docks: all in time for our flight home to the UK.
{ Driving that huge 7-litre automatic U-Haul van was very different to my 1.6-litre manual (stick-shift) car; especially when everyone's on the WRONG side of the road!
The whole trip was really a fantastic experience: including visits to LA, Hollywood, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, the Rockies, Route 66, the endless Plains, avoiding a Twister, Niagara Falls, and Hudson Valley, and NY city. }

We would advise against reliance on any credit card that is unsupported by a big bank, or other recognized institution!

BCCI was apparently plausible, with dozens of celebrity backers on every continent. Its popularity ballooned in a few years; but it had borrowed from other banks to create an illusion of real growth: until sussed by international bank regulators.
The Final Credit Card? Not for me: and that's FINAL.

If I ever do a repeat West-to-East ride, I would definitely take at least two reputable credit cards.
{ Perhaps next time I could start with 'Frisco, then on to Yellowstone....
I'd maybe take my wife too, now the kids are grown up and working.... ....zzzzzzzzz... }

_________________________________

- If the above is a bit long, I've put {brackets} around some bits which could be cut without losing meaning or flow. -


Posted by:

Humbug7
21 Oct 2014

While I agree with most of what you said, I had 2 (yep, 2) separate banks up and deactivate my Visa card without warning and before I received a new one, within 3 months of each other. One was due to the Target data breach (of course, the first (and last) time I had shopped at Target in years). The other was because "there was a problem with the magnetic stripe." In both cases, I had a "card-less" period of 2 weeks or more waiting for the new one. And then I had to go through the whole "new number" stuff with anyone I had given those numbers. Thank goodness I wasn't in some back corner of Europe!


Posted by:

RichF
21 Oct 2014

I went on a trip to GA and was using my Discover card exclusively when on the trip home my card was refused at a gas station. Upon calling them they said they noticed 'questionable activity' and put a hold on it. After answering some security questions they reactivated it. They said if I was travelling that I should let them know before leaving to preclude this problem.


Posted by:

Walter
21 Oct 2014

If you are planning travel, inform your credit card(s) where you are going so they will not cancel your card. I have seen this happening at my grocery store in NH, because the card is used in a location it is not commonly used, the issuing bank will freeze or cancel the card. They think your card is STOLEN.


Posted by:

Sean
21 Oct 2014

Wow... that pirate coplay profile picture was too much.


Posted by:

Pete Greenwood
01 Jan 2015

Heartily agree with your evaluation of the Final Card - the guy is either having a laugh or (very naively) trying a silly rip-off. Whatever: just like the occasional spam that gets through, delete and ignore!
Regarding spending abroad, my UK bank has no problem with me sometimes using my credit card on holiday in Spain without telling them first. I mean, it's my money and I spend it where I choose! Banks sometimes lose sight of the fact that without customers they wouldn't exist!


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