I’ve shared a lot of personal financial information over the years at Consumerism Commentary. This site’s original purpose was to hold myself accountable for the financial decisions I would make, and I did so for many years by publishing monthly reports that included my net worth. From these, readers could determine bank account balances, credit card usage, and salaries from the jobs I’ve held over that period of time. But I never published credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or my name.
I’d like to think that when it comes to my financial information, I’ve been oversharing, but maintaining some level of privacy. Thanks now to social sharing websites and applications, the internet is now full of people sharing too much financial information. A relatively new Twitter account helps bring this attention forward.
@NeedADebitCard appears to use an automated system to republish the various tweets containing images of credit cards and debit cards — some with names and numbers clearly visible — from around the world.
The updates are not very frequent, a good sign that there is not currently an oversharing epidemic, but it certainly makes it easy for anyone interested in attempting to commit credit card fraud.
If you share an image of your credit card using Instagram or Twitter, you may think that you are sharing with only your friends — all trustworthy people, naturally — but the information is public in many cases. @NeedACreditCard highlights this by retweeting the various images of credit and debit cards.
Some of the original posters have been notified of their privacy blunders or realized their mistakes after the fact, deleting the images containing their names and card numbers or the original Twitter messages that mentioned them. Some of the photo sharing websites involved, like Instagram, worked with the users ignorant of privacy and safety to remove the images, but some of the images remain accessible by anyone with internet access who are aware of the places online to find them. Sharing your card numbers publicly is just asking for trouble.
Thanks to publicity, the @NeedACreditCard feed is significantly shorter than it was previously, thanks to users removing their original Twitter messages.
The consequences of letting other people see your credit or debit card number and name
Putting this personal information onto the internet, even if you think your sharing is private, pretty much guarantees someone will find it and try to use it for illicit purposes. If you realize you’ve shared your information, consider your security breach. Call your credit card company or bank to cancel your account number and ask them to issue you a new one.
If you diligently review your credit card statement, chances are good that you won’t be held liable for any fraudulent charges. Debit cards may cause a different problem. While you may not be liable for transactions you didn’t make, your linked bank account may have a reduced balance — and you may even have an overdrawn account if the perpetrator used the card to buy items costing more than your balance — until the bank rectifies the matter. That could mean important payments, like rent or mortgage, bounce or drive additional overdraft fees. Regardless of the services you have with your bank, someone using your debit card without your permission will result in headaches when attempting to resolve the issue.
Most readers of Consumerism Commentary, I would have to believe, are wise enough not to share their credit card information — in the form of a photograph or otherwise — online, at least not without obscuring personal information. This isn’t a message to regular readers, this is an article that I hope reaches people who may not know better. If you have friends who may benefit from this information, please feel free to share.
Don’t post your credit card information or pictures online, even if just to friends. As the @NeedADebitCard Twitter account description states: “Please quit posting pictures of your debit cards, people.”
Updated June 24, 2016 and originally published July 19, 2012.