Your Instagram Addiction Could be Putting You at Risk for Credit Card Fraud

credit card information stolenAs 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.

But this absurd theory is actually a reality, as seen on Twitter account @NeedaDebitCard, where tweets are rounded up from people who have posted clear pictures of their own debit and 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 card information online.

NeedaDebitCard has tweeted almost 250 times since it was founded 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 hard lesson these people had to learn — and hopefully others can, too — is that online fraud is rampant. Online identity thieves are good at what they do on their own, so imagine how great they are when the hardest part of the job is done for them.

The Reality of Online Credit Card Theft

A 2013 survey released by eMarketer estimated that US ecommerce would generate $262.3 billion in sales for the year, estimating that sales will reach $440 billion by 2017 for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.8 percent.

The problem with the increase in online credit card use, however, is that heightened trust in the Web 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 then there are cardholders who willingly post their sensitive data online for all to see.

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 reputations.

How to Avoid Online Credit Card Fraud

The good news is there are plenty of steps you can take to avoid online credit card fraud; it’s simply a matter of taking certain credit card safety precautions while surfing the Web.

  • 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 e-mail, 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.
  • Use one-time credit card numbers: An option to consider if you want to protect your credit card account is to acquire a temporary credit card number from your card issuer. This way, only a single 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 that have solid reputations as an online retailers. However, if you’re interested in buying from a site you’ve never used before, 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, consistently review your transaction history and be sure to report any questionable purchases to your issuer and the Identity Theft Resource Center immediately.

Finally, 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 easier. 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.