Virtual Account Numbers and a Russian Web Site

April 21, 2007

Word is out that Windows Vista is a bad idea, despite initially gentle reviews by much of the mainstream technology media. Truly, common sense dictated that Vista would be a bad idea in a manner similar to the way that common sense clearly indicated there were many bad reasons for going into Iraq. The indicators — such as a delayed production schedule for a highly complex operating system in a world with many, many third-party applications — pointed to an inevitable outcome. My new laptop has XP.

Here’s one of many examples of things that don’t work with Vista — Citi Cards’ Virtual Account Numbers, whereby you click a button and get a secure, “fake” credit card number that points to your real one:

An important notice to users of Virtual Account Numbers.

Dear Rekha Murthy,
It has come to our attention that the download version of Citi® Virtual Account Numbers is incompatible with Windows® Vista, Microsoft’s new operating system. If you are running Windows Vista, you are currently unable to use the download version of Virtual Account Numbers. However, you can still use the online version. Just sign on at citicards.com and launch it from Account Online.
If you are using Windows® 2000 or Windows® XP, you can continue to use the download version of Virtual Account Numbers.
We are currently developing a Windows® Vista-Compatible version of Virtual Account Numbers, and will notify you as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, please remove the download version of Virtual Account Numbers from any computer running Windows® Vista.
We apologize for this inconvenience and will contact you as soon as a Vista-Compatible version is available for installation.

Ok, so this is not so serious. Instead of getting a VAN at the click of a button, one must click and type a bit more.

But the email reminded me of the one time I used the Virtual Account Number function. I hate to admit it, but a stereotype drove me to it. The Web site I wanted to purchase from was Russian: http://www.allofmp3.com. The site sells DRM-free MP3s at the bit-rate of one’s choosing. I did a test purchase, it worked brilliantly, but the piracy implications were not lost on me, nor the U.S., which got Russia to shut down the site. It seems to be back up, but what I really wonder is whether the folks at CitiCards saw corresponding shifts in Virtual Account Number usage. And if they did, did they figure out what was going on?

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One Response to “Virtual Account Numbers and a Russian Web Site”


  1. I have been calling the tech support site at citibank for the past 21 days, and each time I called, I ask one question.
    “Is the download version of Virtual Account Numbers compatable with Windows Vista SP1”.
    Everyone that I talked to,including 3 different second line supervisors, advised me that that program was definitely compatable with Windows Vista, and implied that I didn’t know how to configure my computer to either download the program, or make it work if I got it downloaded.
    Shame on them.
    I spent 3 weeks trying to get the download to download. When I finally got it downloaded, naturally it wouldn’t work, and I got the “incompatability” message from my Windows Vista computer.
    I called them about this, but they kept insisting that the download works with Windows Vista,(and they are still insisting as of today) and there was something wrong with my computer.
    Thanks you for this post.

    Jim Williams


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