Editorial Policy

Twitter Users Getting Careless With Their Cards

Marcia Frellick

July 16, 2012

So you got a shiny new debit card or credit card in the mail — maybe your first ever. Time to take a picture and show it off to your friends online, right?


That’s the message from a Twitter account set up to point out the dangers (and stupidity) of posting card information or photos online. The account, @NeedADebitCard, retweets posts that show people holding their cards up to the camera, freezing the card in ice, lamenting (in colorful language) that their name was misspelled and many other examples.

Sometimes full name, expiration date and card number are in full view. Sometimes, Twitter users try to obscure them with a hand or blur, but they could be in full view with the right magnification. It doesn’t take much for thieves to put the pieces together and steal your identity. Even if you haven’t posted your three-digit security number (which appears on the back of the card), not everyone asks for that code, meaning your card could still be useful to a thief.

In fact, “In today’s environment of quick and easy data aggregation, identity theft can start with something as simple as a debit card number,” Brian McGinley, senior vice president of data risk management at Identity Theft 911, told PC Magazine.

As of July 16, @NeedADebitCard has more than 10,000 followers. Its account description says it all: “Please quit posting pictures of your debit cards, people.” Some pictures retweeted by @NeedADebitCard have been removed, suggesting a lesson learned.

If you’re guilty of tweeting a photo of your credit or debit card,  three things need to happen immediately: Delete the tweet, cancel the offending card and check your credit report to see if any damage has been done.

It’s one of the more blatant online goofs you can make, but while you’re reviewing your online habits consider these:

  • Don’t use obvious passwords: Your mother’s maiden name, your birthdate, your graduation year, your address, your nickname, your pet’s name and some number combinations are all way too easy to figure out. Imperva Security found in an analysis of 32 million passwords exposed in a data breach that the top five most commonly used passwords were 123456, 12345, 123456789, Password and iloveyou.
  • Watch what you put on all social media: If you put sensitive information (your mother’s maiden name, etc.) in a Facebook update or a tweet, you’re giving thieves one more clue they can use to open your accounts.
  • Don’t use a public Wi-Fi spot to download your banking information. Doing this at an airport, coffee shop or library can expose you to people who can intercept the information with nearby devices.