Providian Financial Corp. is developing a service that will let its credit card customers check their account balances and other information through wireless devices, such as Internet-connected mobile phones or personal digital assistants.

A shopper ready to buy something but worried about the amount of credit available on a particular card could use the service to check, potentially avoiding embarrassment at the point of sale, Providian said. Customers who register for the service will be able to type in a Web address on their mobile device and view payment and credit information.

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