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A new level of privacy is coming to American Express cards next month. American Express is introducing Private Payments, which enables customers to purchase online without transmitting their actual card account number over the Internet. When a cardholder is ready to make an online purchase they simply go the AmEx Private Payments web site. This launches the service, which then prompts them for user name and password, and to select the AmEx card they want linked to the Private Payments number. A unique Private Payments number with expiration date is then randomly created. The cardholder’s actual card account number is not sent over the Internet. The Private Payments number is designed to be used for a single purchase and to expire after the merchant authorization process is completed. Private Payments will be available free to AmEx consumer and small business cardholders in the U.S. American Express also announced it has signed an agreement with and made a minority investment in Privada, Inc., a digital privacy infrastructure provider, to deliver a second product that will enable customers to choose how much of their information is shared when they browse any site on the Web. This private browsing product will allow customers to select from settings that range from sharing their full identity to anonymity. AmEx says this service will be introduced later this year. Interested cardholders can register for the free service at www.americanexpress. com/privatepayments.

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