Cancel That Card

I run an automated service that tweets at people who post pictures of their credit or debit cards online. If you got here from a link tweeted to you it’s very important that you keep reading.

If someone can read the number of the credit card then they can use it to buy things online or by phone using your money. There are protections built into credit cards but they are not reliable. Below I’ve written up some of the common beliefs and why they’re not enough protection.

How a credit card number is made


Common mistakes

The security code is on the back, so I’m safe

Many online retailers require the security code / CVV when making an online purchase, but people can still use the card without that code, especially over the phone, it just costs the retailers more per transaction.  If this is how you protected yourself, then please cancel that card.

I hid the first 6 digits of my card

The first 6 digits are for your bank, not for you. Because you can put the numbers into BinDB and see the name of your bank you can also see the logo of the bank on the card and work out the first 6 digits of the card. If this is how you protected yourself, then please cancel that card.

I hid the expiry date

Credit cards generally last about two years before they’re replaced. That means it will take a maximum of 24 guesses to get the right expiry date. Doing this could raise a flag against your card by the bank, but to be safe you should cancel that card.

I hid my name

If you’ve used your real name on your twitter profile, previous tweets, previous photos or linked to a source of your real name, like Facebook or your blog then your name will also be known and the card can be used.  If this is how you protected yourself, then please cancel that card.

I blurred the card number

The numbers on a credit card are quite easy to read, even with a little blurring. A lot of times the blur used is not strong enough to stop a computer removing it. If you think that you can maybe make out some of the numbers or if you used a photo filter like those available on Instagram, it’s better if you cancel that card.

debit card

An example of two debit cards uploaded to twitter – I have added black bars to block the details

I don’t have any money on my card

New debit cards can have little or no money on them, stopping people stealing from them at the time the photo is posted, but credit card details are valid for years. Your credit/debit card details can be used in two months time, when there is money on the account. Even if you have no money on your card, your best option is to cancel that card.

I can just delete my tweet

Deleting your tweet is a good first step but you need to know that deleting a tweet doesn’t mean it is gone. Once something is put on the Internet it is seen by anyone who clicks it, but more importantly it can be stored by other websites, programs or phone apps. Deleting a tweet does not remove it from these other services, so the safest thing to do is to cancel that card.

What’s the risk, really?

My service isn’t the only one on twitter noticing cards – other accounts like @NeedADebitCard retweet photos of cards, so you know that other people have seen it. People on twitter joke about using the cards to buy things online, but these people are raising awareness and draw attention to themselves, I do not believe they steal cards.

How liable you are for any money lost depends on the country you are in – credit card companies and banks have good systems in place to detect fraud but they have a much better chance of stopping the fraud from happening if you report that the card is stolen. Most card issuers put their customer service number on your statements, some even have a dedicated line – call that number and have them cancel the card.

In the worst case, your credit card can be used with other details to steal your identity, which is a much more serious issue that will probably involve your local police service.

I don’t want to admit this to the bank

Banks are used to this happening, they issue new cards all the time. I made this page and the service because I kept seeing it happen and I wanted to help educate people to the risks. I’ve had to get a new card issued twice (once I lost it, once it was stolen) and both times it’s been easy. It may be a bit embarrassing now, but it’ll be much less stressful than dealing with the bank after the card has been used.

Find your bank statement, pick up the phone, call your bank and cancel that card.

Who am I?

My name is Ben, I’m a software developer living in Wellington, New Zealand. I’ve been on Twitter since 2007 and I’m one of the good guys. I created this service because I see lots of people posting photos of their new or personalised credit cards on twitter and there’s more risk involved than they realise. I wanted to help educate people and so I made Cancel That Card.

Generous support

My heartfelt thanks to the team at iwantmyname for the domain!

i want my name logo


Heartfelt thanks also go out to Andy, Nigel, Martyn and Jon for their advice, feedback, content suggestions and an introduction to the iwmn guys. You all rock and I’m lucky to have your advice to draw on!