At 6:48 PM -0800 on 2/3/01, PRIVACY Forum wrote:

> Date:    Thu, 07 Dec 2000 19:00:36 EST
> Subject: Anonymous "Credit": 7-11/AMEX Gift Card
> I'm writing about a fairly new product that has become available: the
> 7-Eleven Gift Card by American Express.  I found it a little odd that AMEX
> would be enabling people to carry out anonymous/private transactions.
> Especially considering the reports about how AMEX would peek into customers'
> bank accounts to verify if they have enough money to pay their monthly bill!
> So it's interesting that they would issue a card that cannot be tracked back
> to you.
> This card is being issued at 7-Eleven stores nationwide.  It is fairly new
> (to the East Coast anyway) so it's availability may be limited in some
> areas.  You can find out more information on the 7-Eleven web site at
>  It is gold in color and bears the
> American Express "Blue Box" logo on the front.  It's packaged much the same
> way as a prepaid calling card--it is on a hang-card with the front of the
> card displayed but the back side is half covered by the opaque card but the
> magnetic strip is exposed.  The back side of the card which is covered up
> contains a silvery strip which you scratch off much like a lottery ticket.
> This is where the 15-digit card number and 4-digit verification codes appear.
> Note that there are no embossed numbers or any name whatsoever on the card.
> The expiry date is in tiny under the signature panel but I noticed that the
> date shown (12/03) is different than the date encoded on the mag stripe
> (03/03) yet both of them work.
> The card is a gift card much like any other gift card or gift certificate
> from Best Buy, Macy's etc except this card can be used at most anyplace that
> takes the American Express card.  To get a card, simply go to a 7-11 store
> and ask for a gift card in any amount between $25-$1,000.  You'll be charged
> a fee of 4% to "load" the money onto the card.  You pay the amount plus fee
> with cash or (oddly enough) credit card--or even another gift card.  The
> clerk swiped the gift card and enters the payment information which then
> activates the card on the AMEX network.  You'll be given a receipt showing
> the balance on the card.  When activated, the card can be used
> instantly--there is no delay.
> Since this is a gift card, I think AMEX intended it to be sent to loved ones
> but there is nothing stopping you from buying one for yourself.
> When your balance runs low you can "reload" more money onto the card at any
> 7-11 store.  You can also call the toll free number on the back to check
> your balance.
> So far, I have used the card in all manner of places both online and in the
> physical world with only one or two minor snags:  one merchant's register
> would not read the mag stripe properly and when the clerk keyed in the
> number, the register asked for the effective dates, ie, when did the card
> *start* and when did it expire.  A quick call to the toll free number took
> care of that.  The other hold up came from a couple of places that not only
> swipe all credit cards presented but also imprint the number.  Well there's
> nothing to imprint on this card so they just note that and carry on.  Note
> that the four (only four!) places that asked for ID with the credit card
> changed their mind when they saw there wasn't even a name on the card to
> verify!
> On the subject of ownership, you need to treat this card as cash.  That's
> because like cash, you can't really prove ownership--if you drop either in a
> parking lot and someone else comes along after you leave, he/she can use
> either and you're out of that money.
> Some would wonder why pay 4% to use your own cash.  One thing to remember is
> that you can't really use cash across the Internet.  This card can be used
> (again, entering any name and address if necessary) at any website that takes
> AMEX.  This makes it good at sites that you'd rather not have appear on your
> personal credit card.  So you can greatly enhance your privacy by using a
> web-based mail service, an anonymous web browser and this card and not worry
> about junk mail or any other annoyances.
>       [ Of course, if a person chooses to buy one of these cash cards
>         using their credit card for payment, the "anonymity" factor
>         may be significantly reduced.
>                       -- PRIVACY Forum Moderator ]

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: [EMAIL PROTECTED]>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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