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Could Selfies Stop Credit Card Fraud?

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One of the UAE’s largest banks, FGB, is offering a credit card with your face on it. Well, you don’t have to put your face on it, but this customizable product gives consumers the option of choosing a selfie for the card design, The National reports.

Custom card design isn’t a new concept — for example, Capital One has an Image Card tool that allows many of its customers to upload images they’d like on their cards, as long as they’re appropriate, non-copyrighted photos — but putting a selfie on your credit card could serve a purpose beyond creativity and entertainment. If your credit card has your picture on it, someone else might have a hard time using it.

The idea behind FGB’s product is like that of other image cards: It effectively tells consumers, “Choose this card, because you can make it your own.” Instead of choosing a picture of your family, cat or favorite vacation spot, you can slap a selfie on it with the hope it would be less appealing to a fraudster.

Think about it: You could possibly use editing software to add text to the photo and write something like, “Don’t let someone who doesn’t look like this use this card.” Consumers might have fun with it. You go to a bar and open a tab, and when it’s time to close out, you can point to yourself and tell the bartender, “My card has my face on it.” That’s a cool idea.

At the same time, it may not be effective at stopping all credit card fraud. For example, a photo card wouldn’t dissuade someone from making fraudulent online transactions with a stolen card number, or with a checkout process that allows you to swipe your card yourself. Then there’s the fact that cashiers handle hundreds of cards a day, so yours might not get a second look.

If photo ID credit cards were more effective at preventing fraud, they probably would be the industry standard. Bank of America allows cardholders to add Photo Security to their cards, which is just a headshot added to the corner of the card. It’s not as fun as a selfie, but it’s also more official-looking.

Come to think of it, fraudsters could use selfies to their advantage. If they use stolen data to manufacture fake credit cards, they could probably add their photos to them, and if a cashier asks for ID, they could say, “That’s me, on the card.” A cashier might accept that response.

Ultimately, the best way to make sure someone else isn’t going on a shopping spree with your credit card info is to view your statements frequently, even daily, for unauthorized activity. Looking at your credit scores regularly can also tip you off to a problem if you see a big, unexpected drop (Credit.com updates two of your credit scores for free every month). If that happens, that’s a cue to pull your credit reports (which you can do for free, annually) and look for fraudulent accounts.

So maybe selfies aren’t the future of credit card security; still, it’s interesting to think about. Feel free to add pictures of your dogs or kids to your cards instead.

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