I just tried to make a credit card payment at a merchants website that was using 2Checkout as the payment processor.
The process on first glance looked like any other checkout process on the Internet. I first had to enter my personal information, and then on a second page my credit card number, verification code and expiration date.
Instead of redirecting me to a final page with my order details, I was redirected to an intermediary page that was asking me to create a MasterCard SecureCode. MasterCard was the credit card company that I used to pay the merchant.
This never happened to me before and I suspected foul play for a short period of time. The screen asked me to enter my birthday and the last four digits of the associated bank account. To make matters worse, the setup returned an error and I could not complete the transaction.
I then decided to do some research on MasterCard SecureCode to find out what it was all about, and to monitor my credit card statement more closely in the coming weeks.
MasterCard SecureCode is explained on the MasterCard website. It is a private code to make online transactions more secure. The code is entered during transactions as a secondary means of authorization. Unlike the credit card number, expiration date and verification code, it is not submitted to the merchant, but to MasterCard directly.
It looks like a two-factor authentication on first glance. When you look closer though, you will notice that merchants benefit way more from it than credit card owners. Why? If someone steals your credit card information, they can still use the card in places and locations that do not support SecureCode.
Merchants on the other hand that have implemented SecureCode as part of their checkout process, know that the actual owner of the credit card is making that transaction. That is, unless the thief managed to steal the MasterCard SecureCode as well from the user, for instance if the owner wrote it on the card.
Credit card owners know on the other hand can be sure that a merchant is legit if SecureCode is supported, provided that they are not on a website that is faking all of that.
MasterCard owners can sign up for a Securecode at the MasterCard website, or during the checkout process (which did not work for me). I suggest you sign-up on ther MasterCard website directly, as you can be sure that you are setting it up on a legitimate site.
Have you encountered MasterCard SecureCode yet on an online shipping tour?
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.