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Freeze! Discover Rolls Out Credit Card With On/Off Switch

The Discover Card Paul Sakuma / AP file

When your credit card is lost or stolen you want to shut it down right away to prevent fraudulent transactions.

But what about all those times when you simply misplaced the card?

Maybe you left it at the restaurant and don’t want to head back there right away, or you’re sure it’s somewhere around the house – if only you could find it.

In situations like this, it would be nice to turn off the card temporarily, rather than cancel it and deal with all the hassles that involves.

That’s what “Freeze It,” the new security feature rolled out by Discover this week, enables its cardholders to do.

Throw the switch – using the mobile app, via the web or calling the toll-free number – and in seconds that Discover card is turned off. This will prevent new purchases, cash advances and balance transfers until the card is turned back on. Automatic charges to that card will continue as scheduled.

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“We’re really excited to be the first in the marketplace to offer this fast and simple security feature that we think consumers will love,” said Julie Loeger, senior vice president of brand and acquisition. “It’s simple, it’s straightforward and it’s what customers have been asking for – to have security within their control.”

“Anything that gives the cardholder more control is wonderful.”

If the cardholder tries to use the card and they forgot to turn it back on, they’ll get a text or email alert. This will also let them know if someone is trying to use that frozen card number.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Adam Levin, chairman and founder of Identity Theft 911. “Anything that gives the cardholder more control is wonderful.”

Levin noted that this could save Discover a lot of money by reducing the number of replacement cards it has to issue.

Ken Paterson, vice president of research operations at the Mercator Advisory Group, expects the "Freeze It" feature to be well-received. It capitalizes on the growing interest in self-service banking and the demand for improved credit card security, he said.

“Presuming this technology works as efficiently as it sounds, people may decide to leave their Discover card turned off all the time and just turn it on when they’re ready to make a purchase,” Paterson told NBC News. “Turn it on, make the purchase, and then shut it down again.”

Herb Weisbaum is The ConsumerMan. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter or visit The ConsumerMan website.