SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — A Bay Area company believes the key to keeping hackers away from your credit card information may lie in your cell phone.

San Jose-based startup Ondot Systems calls the software “CardControl,” and describes the process as simple.

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Using your bank’s app, you decide where a card can be used; whether it’s a certain city, geographical area, or even a certain radius around your phone’s location.

If the transaction is within the approved area, you’re fine. However, if your card is used elsewhere, it’s declined.

“It’s a step in stopping the bad guys…I’m more in control of where it can be used,” said Rachna Ahlawhat, founder of Ondot. “So my card becomes less usable for a fraudster than a card which is open for use anywhere.”

One of Ondot’s most powerful features, “My Location,” only allows a credit card to work if the transaction happens near a cell phone.

To test it out, KPIX 5 had Ahlawhat try to get cash at an ATM in north San Jose, while her phone was moved to east San Jose, about 8 miles away.

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Ondot logs the location from the nearest cell phone tower, then denies the transaction and pushes an alert to the phone.

Ondot says a radius of several miles, for now, is the right balance of security and battery life.

“And we have optimized our algorithm to a point when there is no significant drain in the battery, but the location of the user is still so precise that you can apply these location risk controls,” Ahlawhat said.

Ahlawhat says crooks typically use a stolen card about seven times before the bank detects fraud. But with CardControl, customers are notified after the first try.

The 3,000 banks and credit unions around the country that now use the technology could prevent millions of dollars in theft.

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CardControl is the latest Silicon Valley invention to help you keep up, and maybe even stay one-step ahead, of the bad guys.