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For subsequent purchases, the customer need not communicate a credit card number to the merchant.The customer need only provide his or her name to the merchant, and so long as the shipping address provided by the customer matches that on file, the merchant will use the credit card number the customer previously gave to the merchant to charge the order placed.The growth in its popularity can in part be explained because consumers have learned that goods purchased from a catalog are often much less expensive than if purchased through a normal retail store.In addition, because a customer can shop without leaving the comfort of home or office, placing an order for merchandise from a catalog makes much more efficient use of the customer's time.Alternatively, the customer may fax the credit card information to the merchant.

Currently, most transactions occurring over networks such as the Internet are done in two parts.

However, users are justifiably concerned about their credit card numbers being transmitted over networks such as the Internet, for example, via E-mail, because of the lack of secure communications.

Security on public networks at the present time is virtually non-existent, making it relatively easy for an unauthorized third party to gain access to credit card data transmitted over the network.

The method of claim 1, wherein the merchant maintains a plurality of credit card numbers of the customer in the database, further comprising the steps of repeating steps (a) and (b) for each of the plurality of the credit card numbers of the customer that are in the database to obtain portions of each of the plurality of credit card numbers of the customer; and constructing the message so that the message contains the portions of each of the plurality of the credit card numbers of the customer.7.

The method of claim 6, further comprising the steps of determining if the portions of the plurality of the credit card numbers of the customer all differ from each other, and if not, successively increasing a size of the portion of each of said plurality of the credit card numbers extracted to form a larger portion, until said larger portions all differ from each other; and then constructing the message to include the larger portions of said plurality of the credit card numbers.8.