Ask Mr. Modem! 8-24-07 - East Valley Tribune: Business

Ask Mr. Modem! 8-24-07

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Posted: Friday, August 24, 2007 11:10 am | Updated: 7:28 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q. I heard of something called single-use credit cards that are supposed to be safer when purchasing things on the Internet. Is this something I should be using and if so, how do I get one?

A. There are a lot of myths and misperceptions about using a credit card online. When all is said and done, using a credit card at a reputable Web site is no more dangerous than verbally giving it to a stranger over the phone when making a catalog purchase or letting your food server toddle off with it in a restaurant. Some would even argue that because no humans are involved in most online transactions, purchases are even safer than traditional human-assisted transactions.

Many banks and credit card issuers now offer single-use credit cards or numbers as a method of protecting customers from credit-card fraud. Also referred to as substitute, disposable, or virtual cards, they contain an account number that can only be used once. If used for a second transaction, it will be declined. In most cases, you download a program from your card issuer or bank that allows you to generate single-use numbers, list the intended merchant, then create a dollar limit and expiration date.

With a single-use credit card, a merchant never receives your real account number to store in its database, so even if someone does compromise the merchant’s system, your transaction information is worthless to the thief.

For more information and to determine if single-use cards are available, contact your bank and/or credit card issuer, or visit its Web site.

Q. Is there a way to create a password-protected folder in Windows? Everybody in my household has access to my computer, and I’d like to have some place to put my personal documents. Thanks for all your help, Mr. M.

A. Unfortunately, you cannot password protect individual folders using Windows alone, but you can with a software program such as Computer Safe ( for $19.95. The site says that it’s normally $49.95, but every time I’ve visited, they’re always having a “special” sale. Another excellent program is the cleverly named Password Protect File ( for $29. Both work with all versions of Windows.

As an alternative to purchasing additional software, you can compress (zip) the files you want to password protect, then use the compression program’s password protection feature. It’s a bit more cumbersome, but it will work. Visit to read all about it.

Last but not least, consider saving your personal files online, in a password-protected environment, rather than on your computer. There are many such services, including the Yahoo Briefcase (, Xdrive (, and (

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week:

Family Style Film Guide

Adults concerned about the ever-increasing violence and sexual content in movies will appreciate this straightforward, clean-cut guide to the latest film releases both in theaters and DVD/Video. Choose from a list of current movies or launch a customized search that allows you to access the site's extensive database of film dating back to 1925. Parents can select their areas of concern (drugs/alcohol, sex, nudity, violence) then search for specific films to determine whether they are suitable for children.


An educational Web site (I’m so sorry; it won’t happen again) that takes a look into a fascinating range of topics from the world of science and culture. Visitors can read a plethora of interesting articles on subjects such as Identity, Health and Migration, and participate in live debates on several current issues about the role of science in our modern society.

Summer Subscription Spectacular! Subscribe to Mr. Modem’s Pulitzer-lacking, weekly, computer-help newsletter and get one month free! Simply subscribe online using Promo Code 0847 and receive a free month with your 6-month subscription (28 issues!) To view a sample issue or to subscribe, visit

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