Everyone is so focused on identity theft through electronic means that many people forget about simply stealing something by listening. The other day I was in my public library, when a woman came in and wanted to use the Internet. She said her computer had died at home and she needed to do a few things online. She went over to the machine and started doing her business. About 10 minutes after she started she took out her cell phone and made a phone call (big no no in a library).
Apparently she was trying to order something online and was having troubling with the shopping cart at the site. She spoke to a customer service person and started dictating her order. She did this in a very loud voice, which was a bit annoying, to say the least. Then comes the coup de grace. She reads her credit card number out loud to the customer service person. She slowly reads the numbers, the expiration date and the Card Verification Value (CVV). There were at least 10 people within earshot who could easily hear her.
I was tempted to write down the numbers and show them to her, just to see her reaction. Talk about a data breach. I can imagine the conversation.
Me: “Excuse me, I just wanted to let you know that everyone in the library now knows your credit card number, expiration date and CVV. You might want to do this in private the next time.”
Her: “Oh I am sorry I was so loud. Next time I’ll be more quiet.”
I bet that would be the reaction from a lot of people. Most of us are terrified of someone stealing our credit card online, but think nothing of shouting out the numbers in public. If you think I’m crazy, listen to people on their cell phones sometimes. You would be amazed at what people say in public places. I’m not suggesting everyone be paranoid about everything, but i think you need to think a little about where and when you give out this information.
Protecting yourself online is important, but you also need to be smart in the offline world. If you have to give someone a credit card number over the phone, do it at home or another quiet place. A little common sense goes a long way.
Photo credit jencu