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It would make sense to think a credit card has more value than a Twitter handle — after all, a card has purchasing power, and a handle doesn’t. But to hackers, compromised Twitter accounts are far more lucrative than stolen credit cards, according to a new report from the RAND Corp.

It has to do with long-term potential. Credit cards are immediately valuable because a thief could probably make a bunch of transactions before the cardholder notices something’s up. For instance, after the Target breach that compromised 40 million customers’ credit and debit card information, millions of people’s card information was put up for sale on the black market, going for between $20 and $135. The price depends on how high the card’s credit limit is, and other factors, like if it was issued from an American or foreign bank. The buyers make their purchases — often gift cards — and cash in on the fraud before the card is canceled.

It’s often a short-lived spree. The RAND report cites interviews with security blogger Brian Krebs explaining how stolen cards lose their value: A freshly stolen card usually goes for $20 to $40, the price drops to $10 to $12 when the market is flooded and old or “stale” data goes on clearance for about $2 to $7 per card.

Twitter accounts are a different story. There are different types of Twitter accounts for sale: There are the cheap, fraudulent accounts which go for roughly $5 per 1,000, and these fake accounts spew links to spam and malware, according to a report from the International Computer Science Institute. Then there are the personal accounts, which have the potential to lead to personal identifying information. A hacker may be able to learn a lot about you from your Twitter credentials, potentially enabling them to break into other accounts you have and steal more sensitive information.

Keeping Your Personal Data Safe

“A Twitter account costs more to purchase than a stolen credit card because the former’s account credentials potentially have a greater yield,” the report says. It doesn’t go into pricing specifics.

When it comes to protecting your Twitter account, some standard rules apply: Use a complex password, and don’t use the same password you use for your email address or another sensitive account. Act quickly to change your password if someone hijacks your account (change your email password first, then request the reset-password link for Twitter), and regularly monitor your credit. If someone gets their hands on your personal information and misuses it, identity theft may show up in the form of an authorized account on your credit report or fraudulent activity on your bank statements. You can monitor your credit scores for signs of identity theft

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