6 Unbelievably Stupid Things People Do With Their Money Online

posted on 06-07-2019

Last year, two armed men broke into the home of a 17-year-old Australian girl, tipped off that she had a large amount of cash stashed there. The source of the tip? The girl had posted on Facebook a photo of a large sum of money that she was helping her grandmother count.

You might forgive the occasional incident of naivete involving a young person being careless with personal information online. But mix a tell-all Internet culture with a growing population of identity thieves and you have a dangerous combination that makes it far too easy to take advantage of people who, well, probably should know better.

"I've seen some people do some dumb things, including posting a photo of a check online with the routing and account numbers visible," said Craig Guillot, author of Stuff About Money: No BS Financial Advice for Regular People.

We're hoping you know better, but just in case you need a refresher on what to avoid, here are a few online ways to open yourself up to theft -- or worse.

1. Here, have my debit card number. At least a few times a week, you can count on someone somewhere posting a photo of his or her debit or credit card online. Perhaps the intent is to show off a particularly cool card design or celebrate new credit worthiness (which, given their carelessness, likely will not last very long), but in the meantime, they are broadcasting their financial information to would-be thieves. The Twitter account @NeedADebitCard celebrates this particular brand of stupidity by shaming the Tweeters even more publicly.

 2. One day my Nigerian prince will come. Though Internet schemes are becoming more sophisticated than the once-prevalent Nigerian prince pleading for bank account information, you can be sure that if you engage with a suspicious email asking for a password or directing you to a bogus website, you are probably opening yourself up to identity theft. Just mark it as spam and leave it alone.

3. Look, Ma! No hands! Along with photos of credit cards and other obvious financial information, Guillot warns people not to post information about risky behaviors. "Insurance companies have increasingly been using social media to check up on their clients," he said. "Fill out a life insurance application, then post photos from your recent skydive and it could be a problem."

 4. What secured network? Many people falsely assume that every network they use to access the Internet is secure. The temptation to give your bank account balance a quick check while waiting for your Americano at the coffee shop is a strong one -- but be careful. Using free Wi-Fi on an unsecured network exposes you to hackers who can easily grab your passwords and other sensitive information. Denise Richardson, author of Give Me Back My Credit!, advises that people use free Wi-Fi only to surf the web -- don't use it to log in to financially sensitive sites.

 5. The check's in the mail, and I'm going to Aruba! You may not be as obvious in your broadcast as someone who posts a photo of their credit card or check. However, when you tell your Twitter followers and Facebook friends about a large sum of money you're about to receive or that you're going on vacation, you are still opening yourself up to risk. If you tell people that you're waiting on a big check, for example, "People could find out where you live and swipe it from your mailbox," Guillot warned.

 6. A password as easy as 1-2-3. We get it. It's hard to remember passwords. But don't make the mistake of thousands of people -- as it was revealed during a recent Yahoo! security breach -- who created painfully obvious passwords, such as 123456. Here is a roundup of the most common passwords (including, duh, "password") revealed when hackers exposed more than 450,000 login credentials. An alternative: Try creating a password by combining the first letter of each word from a line of your favorite song. Additional tip: Pick a lyric with a number in it.

The Investing Answer: As with many things in life, use a bit of common sense to guard yourself from financial fraud online. Though you may be lulled into the idea that you are surrounded by friends, family and a community of benevolent well-wishers online, it might be more accurate to picture yourself facing a bunch of sticky-fingered thugs before you post anything. Ask yourself before you post anything, "Could revealing this information come back to hurt me in some way?"

by Christian Hudspeth What's even better than earning rewards for spending on your credit cards? Getting paid hundreds of dollars worth in sign-up bonuses in three months or sooner -- just for tr...
by Christian Hudspeth Tired of dragging credit card debt around with you? Taking 15 minutes to transfer your debt to a credit card with generous balance transfer perks could save you thousands in...
by Christian Hudspeth If you're going to spend money anyway, then why not get paid for it?Whether you're looking for credit cards with up to 6% cash back, double flight miles, or even a free hote...
by Christian HudspethIn times where interest rates are on the rise, you may start hearing financial advisors and bankers sing the praises of an income strategy called "CD laddering" (short for ce...
by Susan Campbell Those of us familiar with selling property know real estate agents don't come cheap. With real estate agent commission and fees amounting to as much as 6% of the sel...
Beverly Harzog is a nationally recognized credit card expert, author, and consumer advocate. She blogs about credit cards at BeverlyHarzog.com. Being in credit card debt is the pits. I've bee...
by Christian Hudspeth If you haven't already felt the pressure to refinance your mortgage, you're probably really feeling it now. Mortgage rates are still hovering near historic lows. But ...
by Christian Hudspeth If you or someone you know is thinking about getting a home mortgage, you may want to know about the thousands of dollars in hidden charges that some lenders are quietly...
by Christian Hudspeth Money market accounts (MMAs) and savings accounts make great places to set aside your emergency fund money and earn some interest income at the same time.Simply put, these s...
by Christian Hudspeth It's true that auto loans and home loans offer attractively-low annual percentage rates (APRs), while credit cards offer borrowing power without the risk of ever seeing the ...
by Christian HudspethWant to keep your emergency fund safe while earning interest yields that are three to five times higher than a typical savings account? Putting your money into an FDIC-insure...
by Christian Hudspeth Question: Hi there. I need your advice. I'm only 19 and I really need to start investing. Where can I start? -- Tirelo M., Gaborone, Botswana Answer: You've defini...