Did you just get a new credit card with an awesome design on it? Maybe your credit card issuer spelled your name wrong on your new card, or your adorable toddler is playing store with your credit card – how sweet! Why not take a picture and share it with the world?
Many people are doing just that – taking pictures of their credit cards and posting them to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social networking sites. Apparently some people have gotten so used to sharing their personal information via social media that they no longer think twice about who might be watching.
A Twitter feed called @NeedADebitCard re-posts pictures that people have posted of their debit or credit cards – in spite of using “debit card” in the name, it shows both credit and debit cards – in hopes of warning people not to do this and highlighting the foolishness show by those unlucky enough to have been caught in the act.
“Please quit posting pictures of your debit cards, people,” the account’s home page begs readers. Still, many users seem quite proud to show off their credit cards, with people making boasts such as, “Gave the birthday girl my credit card her for bday, go nuts bbgirl! Lol” along with a picture of a child holding a debit card, or “I was able to get the bank to put myself on my debit card – like my sexy seductive pose?”
Many of the links now show messages like, “Page Not Found” or “Removed by User,” showing that, at the very least, the poster learned a lesson about Internet security. Some, though, are still up there for the world to see.
A Credit-Land.com Public Service Announcement
Do we really need to say that it’s not a good idea to post a picture of your debit or credit card online? Even if you are holding your finger over the last four digits (something common in the posts we saw) or have part of the card blurred out, thieves can still use the information – if your name, the name of your bank, or part of your account number is visible, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to identity theft and fraud. Not all shopping sites require the security code from the back of your credit card, and savvy criminals can use fragments of information to fill out a complete picture – that’s what they’re good at!
PC Magazine’s Security Watchblog reported on this phenomenon and quotes Brian McGinley, Senior VP of data risk management at Identity Theft 911: “Something so blatantly obvious as posting your credit or debit card number just speaks to the lack of awareness of what consumers think criminals can do with a set of numbers.”
The (Too Much) Information Age
Indeed, people post all sorts of information online that can leave the door open for identity theft and credit card fraud. Something as simple as saying you’re going on vacation alerts thieves to the fact that you’ll be away from home – and when you’re traveling, you’re a candidate for one of the oldest credit card fraud tricks in the book.
Let’s say you’re at your hotel and the phone rings – it’s the hotel’s front desk, telling you that there’s a problem with your credit card. All they need is for you to read the number back to them and confirm that they have the correct one. Eager to resolve any misunderstanding and get on with your fun vacation plans, you read off your card number and go about your day. When you get home, you find strange charges on your credit card. Uh-oh!
That’s right – it wasn’t the hotel front desk calling you after all. Maybe you shared on your Facebook wall that you were going out of town, and named the hotel where you were staying. All someone had to do was call up the hotel and ask to be connected to the room where you were staying.
Practice Safe Social Media
Maybe you think you’re too smart to fall for a trick like that – but even the best of us get frazzled or carried away and slip up. Just remember – posting a picture of your credit card or debit card is never a good idea – never. In fact, don’t take a picture of it at all! While you’re at it, make sure your privacy settings are closed to the public on Facebook and any other social networking sites where you post information about your personal activities.
A little caution goes a long way. Don’t be like the folks getting re-tweeted on @NeedADebitCard – the new Twitter followers you are sure to get won’t be worth it.