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How You Can 'Turn Off' a Credit Card to Stop Fraud

NEW YORK ( -- Don't you wish you were able to turn off your credit cards when you don't need them so no one else could use them? Then back on when you were ready to make a purchase? With OnDot CardControl, that may not be such a far-fetched idea.

OnDot Systems is a startup in San Jose, Calif., that offers a remote control for your credit cards. The app allows you to use your phone or tablet to control which of your cards are active at any given time. It also allows you to set spending limits on the cards and restrict where they can be used.

If someone tries to use your card number outside of those limits, the purchase will be declined.

This app could be particularly helpful to parents since it enables them to restrict the money on their child's credit card and keep children from spending money frivolously. Parents can remove the restriction in the case of an emergency.

People who have emergency credit cards can turn them off when not in use to protect against identity theft. People trying to live on a budget can limit their spending from one card to the next.

"Our system applies to every card," said one of OnDot's co-founders, Vaduvur Bharghavan.

No matter which cards you may carry, you should be able to control the cards through your phone. You can also set up email alerts to notify you when a transaction takes place. If it is a purchase you did not make, you can contact your credit card company immediately.

Lone Star National Bank tested this system with its customers and saw tremendous improvements in their fraud department.

"We were able to decrease our fraud losses from $450,000 in 2012 to $180,000 in 2013, a reduction of over 60%," said the bank's CEO, David Penoli. "This has been a big breakthrough, and justifies the solution on its own."

If you want a new way to control your finances, this could be one answer.

Bill Hardekopf is chief executive of, which compares and rates more than 1,000 credit cards. He is the co-author of "The Credit Card Guidebook."

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