Twitter account scrapes the Web to find debit card pics, posts them

Summary:As if anyone really needed an incentive to not post something as sensitive as their debit card credentials online, @NeedADebitCard on Twitter takes all such instances it finds and publicizes them.

When was the last time you took a picture of your debit card and posted it on your public Facebook wall, Twitter stream, Instagram account, etc.?

While I'd like to think that 100% of people could instantly respond with, "Never! Why would anyone do something so careless," unfortunately, plenty of people can't. Thanks to a relatively new Twitter account that's suddenly making waves, it's becoming painfully apparent as to just how many people irresponsibly post their debit card information online.

Need a Debit Card

@NeedADebitCard on Twitter

Their method is simple: search Twitter for the term "debit card," then sift through the data of such searches and retweet the cream of the crop results on the Twitter feed. While such a solution could easily be automated to run across a myriad of popular social networking and image sharing sites, the sheer number of false positives to have to sift through would make for a very time-consuming (though lucrative, for the right people) process.

Below are a couple of examples of what @NeedADebitCard serves up on its Twitter feed (edited by me; these cards are fully visible where they originally reside on the Web):

debit-card-picture-from-twitter-1

debit-card-picture-from-twitter-2


While a number of the results posted to the Twitter feed either contain blurred-out information or have been deleted by the people who originally posted such content, the problem with things like this hitting the Internet is that there are services that cache everything they run across. For instance, sites like Topsy serve as a Twitter mirror of-sorts, though they cache/retain more information than Twitter and you can see some nifty stats, such as the total number of tweets an account has (so far, @NeedADebitCard has 128).

At this point, the primary question is if Twitter will get involved and consider removing the account. I can't imagine that sharing such information isn't against Twitter's ToS. Additionally, most people who have the capability to do what the person behind this Twitter alias is doing, aren't making their methods or results public. There's a fine line between making an example out of others, and simply being reckless with the information you're finding. This kind of stuff falls more into the camp of the latter, in my humble opinion.

From here, I fully expect to see a number of people jump on the bandwagon and create similar accounts/services. I know from personal experience just how dead-simple it is to find this information. Over the course of the past year, I've discovered well over 1000 documents and images containing everything from debit/credit card numbers to SSNs and more. This type of information, sadly, pollutes the Web, and while something certainly needs to be done about it in the way of creating awareness, I'm not quite sure if things like this are part of a real solution.

Either way, the person running this Twitter account has it right: "Please quit posting pictures of your debit cards, people."

What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree with what @NeedADebitCard is doing, or do you think they're crossing some kind of line? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


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Topics: Security

About

Stephen is a freelance writer and blogger based in Charlotte, NC. His contributions to ZDNet cover topics related to security, gaming, Microsoft, Apple, and other topics of interest with a tech/SMB skew.

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