Home > Identity Theft > Here’s Why You May Not Want to Customize Your Credit Card’s Design

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Many credit cards offer customers the option of personalizing their card design, with some even allowing people to have their own photos printed on the plastic. It’s kind of fun — every time you bring the card out of your wallet, you get to see a picture of your dog, kids or favorite vacation spot, rather than some generic bank design.

But just because it’s fun doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea. Credit and debit cards already have your name on them, and the magnetic stripes on the back are full of data that thieves may be able to decode — a personal picture could give fraudsters even more information.

“I think the concept of putting anything personal on your credit card is nuts, frankly,” Adam Levin, identity theft expert and co-founder of Credit.com, said. “Why would you want to give anyone any additional pieces of information about your family or you?”

Levin gave a few examples: If your picture is on the card, a thief could match that to your name in an internet search to learn more about you. Pictures of families or specific locations could also help someone track you down online, or give hints to potential security-question answers.

Banks and credit card issuers that offer card personalization generally have guidelines for what sort of images aren’t allowed on cards, in addition to reserving the right to reject image submissions, but those policies may not protect you from oversharing. This isn’t to say all custom pictures put you at greater risk of becoming a victim of identity theft, but it’s certainly something to consider if you have the option of personalizing your credit or debit card design.

“It may make you feel warm and squishy until, God forbid, something happens,” Levin said. “Some people say I’m overly paranoid about this kind of stuff, but today, it pays to be paranoid.”

Identity theft is a common crime, so it’s a good idea to regularly monitor your online and financial accounts for unauthorized use, as well as check your credit reports for fraudulent activity. You can do that by getting your free annual credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com as well as a free credit report summary, with updates every two weeks, on Credit.com.

Image: Sjale

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