Many people put all sorts of vital information online, from their credit card numbers to their addresses and even their social security numbers. But how do you protect that data, and prevent cyber thieves, internet advertising companies and others from accessing your information and profiting off of it? One of the companies offering such privacy protection services is Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Abine.
Rob Shavell, the CEO and co-founder of Abine, spoke to RewardExpert about the benefits of using his company and how it protects consumers against fraud. “Abine is a company that’s 100 percent dedicated to one thing, which is improving consumers’ privacy, and specifically their online privacy,” said Shavell.
The Contrarian Company
Abine was started nine years ago, and bills itself as the online privacy company. It started developing its products when Facebook was really growing its business and preparing for its IPO. Shavell points out that the data sharing practices that social media and online advertising companies conduct to make money did not sit well with him and his two co-founders, Andrew Sudbury and Eugene Kuznetsov. “We wanted to create a contrarian company that helps people protect their data. And so that’s how Abine was born,” stated Shavell.
Blur Out Your Data
Abine has two core products to help protect your data online. One of them is Blur. “It was named because it helps you blur the data you give out,” said Shavell. Blur offers users the chance to remain anonymous while making internet transactions – masking their identity when it comes to credit cards, email, phone numbers and more. “Blur allows you to selectively swap out your real personal information with an alias,” stated Shavell. He pointed out that Blur users will be given an alias email address that they can use to sign up for various online services. That email will then be forwarded to a user’s actual email address. Blur also does the same thing for phone numbers. “We give you a second phone line if you’re a customer, and that will forward calls to your cell phone, keeping your cell phone number private,” pointed out Shavell. And all this information can be easily added with Blur’s convenient auto-fill feature.
Masking Your Credit Cards for Maximum Fraud Protection
In addition to emails and phone numbers, Blur also offers a masked credit card. Users can hook up their actual credit cards with Blur, which then generates an alias number that can be given to the online merchant. Shavell said it operates like a normal credit card, and can be used for any services needed online. However, he points out there’s one huge difference. “Now you’re in control of the data in their relationship with that company instead of that company having your real personal private information,” he said. While these cards are also offered by various banks, Shavell said that Blur’s process is simply quicker and easier. “You can probably shop with a virtual credit card from us from Blur in under a minute, whereas it probably takes you about four or five minutes with Citibank and other companies.”
Blur comes in both a free and a premium version. The premium version has a few more bells and whistles, including unlimited credit cards, a second dedicated phone number and unlimited account backup. It costs $3 a month. Besides the obvious privacy protections, using an alias online also means that if a data breach occurs, hackers will only get access to fake information – not real, personal data.
Delete Your Online Data
Abine’s second core product is called DeleteMe. The service works by removing some of a user’s data that has already been made public on the internet. It’s not magic and can’t remove everything, but DeleteMe looks at the top data brokers, including Google and whitepages.com and attempts to remove it from the database. “We automatically concierge style opt you out of those databases, which means we send requests and go through all the red tape,” said Shavell.
The result is a lot of time saved for users, as Shavell estimates it could take days for a user to opt-out themselves. Abine has a team of privacy experts who take on this challenge for users. Having the experts allows Abine to stay on top of the latest rules and regulations surrounding privacy and data collection.
A Big Year Ahead
Abine is looking forward to a big 2019. That includes allowing users more choices when it comes to selecting a credit card for masking. Shavell said there will also be better email monitoring and the addition of some new trackers that will help block people from gathering data when a user visits a website. For more information, and to find out how you can protect your data with Abine, visit www.abine.com.