Credit card issuers have tried all kinds of ways to erase consumer fears about shopping online - from digital wallets to zero-liability policies - and their latest enthusiasm seems to be for made-up account numbers that expire after one use.

It is no surprise that several small, private technology companies are selling systems for disposable account numbers, but it is somewhat striking that both American Express Co. and MBNA Corp. have thrown their weight behind such systems. According to software vendors, at least two more major card companies will soon announce similar offerings.

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