Photo: GenX Finance
As the old saying goes, there’s an idiot born every day — or is it, there’s a sucker born every minute? Either way, it appears some people are earning these unfortunate titles by posting their own credit card information on photo sharing sites like Instagram and Flickr for everyone to see, making online credit card fraud easy!
Posting Credit Card Pictures Can Lead to Online Credit Card Fraud
With the knowledge that identity thieves can’t wait to get their hands on your personal information, it would seem pretty absurd to post your credit card information right over the internet for any common stranger surfing the net to see. (Photo: Personal_Loans.com)
But this absurd theory is actually a reality, as seen on Twitter account NeedaDebitCard, where tweets are rounded up from people who have posted links to clear pictures of their own debit or credit cards.
Most of the people posting their cards appear to have unique reasons for doing so. For instance, one person wrote, “My credit card came in the mail today #Hooray!” while another shared, “My credit card!! yey.”
One person wrote about losing her card then finding it after ordering a new one. Another talked about her name being spelled wrong — all (crazy) reasons for posting valuable cards online.
NeedaDebitCard has retweeted over a dozen tweets since May 22 in an attempt to get others to abide by its simple bio: “Please quit posting pictures of your debit cards, people.” It appears to be working. Most of the people who posted cards have deleted the pictures, and in some cases have even deleted their accounts.
The lesson these people had to learn — and hopefully others can, too — is that online thieves should not be taken for granted. They are good at what they do on their own, so imagine how great they are when part of the work is accomplished for them.
The Reality of Online Credit Card Theft
Online credit card theft is nothing new; in fact, it has been an issue since retailers began selling merchandise and services over the internet. In the beginning, most people were very reluctant to enter their credit card information over the internet.
According to a JP Morgan Chase study, e-commerce revenues jumped from $28 billion in 2000 to a whopping $166 billion in 2010. As the internet continues to offer enhanced security and privacy options — and fewer transactions go awry — more people are likely to take advantage of the convenience of shopping from home.
The problem with the increase in online credit card use, however, is that heightened trust in the internet opens doors for individuals to have their credit card information stolen more easily. Phishing scams have exposed a growing trust in the internet with millions of people sharing personal information in response to emails supposedly coming from their financial institutions.
And even people who don’t fall for phishing scams can become victims, as witnessed in April when Global Payments Inc. announced that its system had been compromised by hackers who stole approximately 1.5 million accounts, including customers of Visa and MasterCard.
Because most credit card information is stored online in some capacity, whether a result of online purchases made, or card companies and affiliates storing your information in sometimes vulnerable databases, becoming a victim of credit card theft is a strong possibility nowadays.
And the consequences can be disastrous. Becoming the victim of credit card theft can result in financial devastation, or worse, identity theft, which can be very difficult to overcome in the long run.
Having an identity stolen means the thief can not only spend money in already open accounts, but can open new accounts, take out loans and even apply for jobs under your name. Victims of identity theft often spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars trying to clear up their credit while rebuilding their tarnished reputation.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, identity theft is on the rise, increasing in 2010 to 7 percent — or 8.6 million households with at least one member age 12 or older. While credit card and identity theft isn’t totally avoidable, it’s important to take the necessary steps to avoid putting yourself in harm’s way.
How to Avoid Online Credit Card Fraud
The good news is there are ways to avoid online credit card fraud — or online fraud, in general. It’s just a matter of taking certain precautions while surfing the internet.
- Shop on secure sites: Shopping online can be a tricky business. You don’t want to hand your credit card information over to a potential thief behind a merchant site. So always make sure that you buy through secured sites with URLs beginning with https.
- Recognize phishing scams: If you receive an email, text message, Facebook message or any other type of communication from a source claiming to be your financial institution, close out of the communication immediately and contact your institution directly to inquire about the message. Don’t give away any of your personal or financial information, or respond at all.
- Use one-time credit card numbers: An option to consider if you want to protect your credit card account is to see if you can acquire a temporary credit card number from your card issuer. This way, only one purchase can be made with the number.
- Check merchant ratings and reviews: It’s a good idea to stick with merchants you’re familiar with and know have a good reputation as an online seller. But if you’re interested in buying from a new site, check both customer reviews and business ratings (from BBB) to avoid handing your information over to an identity thief.
- Keep track of your bills: If you use a standard credit card to make purchases, keep track of your account bills and be sure to report any questionable purchases to your issuer and the Identity Theft Resource Center immediately.
The final tip is to never post your credit or debit card picture or information online for any reason. There are identity thieves already hard at work to steal information you want to protect, so don’t make their jobs easy for them. The reality of online credit card fraud is too ugly to make an avoidable mistake that could cost you money and valuable time for years to come.