Discover Discontinues Random-Number Security Feature

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Discover Financial Services is discontinuing a security tool that allowed cardholders to request a randomly generated, one-time-use card number they could utilize for online or card-not-present transactions for which they believed their account security might be at risk. Discover says existing security measures are enough to keep customers safe.

According to spokesperson Laura Gingiss, the program, called Secure Online Account Numbers, will be discontinued on Sept. 8, although new numbers can still be generated until that date, which consumers can store in online shopping carts until they’re ready to use them. The numbers will remain valid until the expiration date on a cardmember’s account.

“Given the existing security measures taken today by Discover and all credit card companies, we felt that SOANs were no longer needed to keep cardmembers’ accounts secure,” Gingiss says via email. “Additionally, we did not have as many people using them as anticipated.”

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Part of the problem might have been that the offering was too under-the-radar to generate much demand. Discover isn’t the only issuer to offer this, but it’s pretty rare. Wells Fargo, Capital One and American Express all say they don’t offer one-time-use number generation. A Chase rep says that while it doesn’t offer this service, holders of Chase Visa cards can use that company’s Verified by Visa service to generate one-time-use account numbers. Bank of America is the one large issuer that bucks the trend; its version of this service is called Shop Safe. “It continues to be one of the many card offerings we have in our suite,” confirms a spokesperson.

Discover’s Gingiss says cardholders are still protected by the company’s $0 liability guarantee if their account information is compromised and used fraudulently. The customer would give the “substitute” number to the merchant in order to keep from disclosing their real account number.