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PIN on the Go

If you worry that one day someone will steal your credit card number, protection may be on the way. Swivel Technologies of Knaresborough, England, has developed a credit card system that generates a fresh, unpredictable number for every transaction

A user who registers with Swivel receives a four-digit personal identification number that can be used on a cell phone, computer, personal digital assistant or any other device equipped with Swivel’s software. When this PIN is entered, the Swivel software generates a random 10-digit sequence that, in combination with the PIN, produces a unique one-time code; that code is transmitted to Swivel’s server, which authenticates the transaction. Interception of the wireless signal would do a would-be thief no good, because the transaction code is generated anew each time. The Swivel system can be used with existing digital phones as well as those based on higher-bandwidth “third-generation” (3G) wireless technology. The patented system should be commercially available within two years.

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