The financial Twitter-sphere exploded with the news Monday that someone had created a handle to expose the many Americans that tweet pictures of their debit and credit cards.
The account, @NeedaDebitCard, started retweeting status updates in late May with the message of “Please quit posting pictures of your debit cards, people.” So far, the feed has about 6,000 followers and has been widely retweeted and commented on as an example of “tweet shaming” — exposing unwise behavior to public ridicule.
Gerri Detweiler, Credit.com’s Director of Consumer Education, says that even though many social media users might not think twice about posting a picture on Twitter, it puts them in the crosshairs of identity thieves.
“Posting your card online is like leaving the keys in the ignition while you shop all over town,” she says. “Maybe nothing bad will happen, but do you really want to take that chance?”
Apparently, some people are willing to take the chance. The feed has currently retweeted less than 50 pictures of debit and credit cards from Twitter users who have exposed themselves to a major security threat.
“It is said that cyber security is only as effective as its weakest link. Human beings are the weakest link,” says Adam Levin, Co-Founder and Chairman of Credit.com. “This is the most compelling argument for financial literacy education in high school and college.”
What can you learn from the mistakes of these users?
“Social media and online services are making it easier for thieves to obtain identifying information about us — like our birthdates, addresses, mother’s maiden name, and more,” says Brian McGinley, SVP of Data Risk Management at Identity Theft 911. “There are levels of protection in place to defend innocent consumers who may be a victim of a breach or skimming scam. But 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. In today’s environment of quick and easy data aggregation, identity theft can start with something as simple as a debit card number. Folks, let’s not paint a big target on our chest and make it easy for the criminals.”
Furthermore, revealing your debit card information carries more risk.
“Exposing debit card data can lead to a phishing attack on consumers,” says Ondrej Krehel, Information Security Officer for Identity Theft 911. “Debit cards are more dangerous than credit cards, since they are directly connected to a consumer’s bank account and debit card rules allow issuers to hold consumers responsible for up to $500 in losses if they don’t report the problem within two business days. Credit cardholders are limited to $50 in losses.”
If you or someone you know has committed the Twitter faux-pas of posting your debit or credit card number online, here’s what you should do.
- Delete the tweet. This will help limit access to identity thieves.
- Cancel the credit or debit card. Though you may not have become a victim of identity theft yet, you don’t want to risk it.
- Check your account. This will help you ensure that no charges were made by someone else. If you discover that someone has used your card or card numbers without your knowledge, call the issuer immediately and alert them of the fraud.
- Check your credit report. Monitoring your credit after a possible identity hack is key to making sure you don’t have one mistake on Twitter follow you around for years. (You can use Credit.com’s Free Credit Report Card to monitor and learn about your credit.)
- Don’t make the mistake again. Tweeting out anything that has account information on it can be dangerous to your financial well-being.
Image: eldh, via Flickr