The four daftest things people do on social media to help scammers

… like showing off a new credit card on Twitter, posting pictures of cash on Instagram, or boasting about coveted gig tickets on Facebook


Illustration by Alec Doherty at MP Arts

Cyber crime is rising fast according to the government, and millions of TalkTalk customers have been left vulnerable after a huge attack. Making matters worse, many people leave themselves open to theft by doing some quite exceptionally daft things on social media sites.

Showing off your new bank card

You are a teenager and have just been given your very first debit card. Or maybe you have just become a dad and have decided to mark the moment by personalising your bank card with an image of your baby (Barclays is just one of the banks that offers a personalised debit card service). You are so delighted that you can’t resist sharing a photo of it on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. There for everyone to see is your 16-digit number, expiry date, cardholder name, account number and sort code. Congratulations – you have given fraudsters much of the information they need, whether they’re attempting to raid your bank account or commit ID fraud.

You might think no one would be daft enough to share a photo of their bank card, but it seems a fair few do. There is even a Twitter account – with more than 17,000 followers – that retweets posts that include them, seemingly to name and shame these people for their stupidity.

This information on its own may not be enough to ensure you are ripped off – after all, the scammer hasn’t got your pin or the three-digit security code printed on the back of your card. But it’s a pretty good start. If your name is unusual and/or there is other information on social media about where you live, it may not be tricky to track down your address.

Perhaps the next stage will be a phone call or email from someone pretending to be from your bank or card company informing you of suspicious card activity, where the aim is to get you to disclose your three-digit code.

“Sharing a picture online of your credit/debit card is a surefire way to have your details hacked. You’re practically handing your personal information over to a fraudster,” says John Cannon, fraud and ID director at credit report provider Noddle.

Hey everyone, I’m going to the gig!

Don’t share images of event tickets on social media sites, no matter how ecstatic you are to have snagged a seat for the upcoming Madonna/Libertines/Barry Manilow gig – particularly if the ticket includes a barcode. Scammers search sites for such posts and are able to create fake tickets by copying the barcode. It means that when you arrive at the gig, you may find that someone who bought one of the fakes has already used it to get in, leaving you stuck outside.