Our wallets and purses are day-today essentials for life – we carry everything we may possibly need, along with much of what we don’t. We tend to thoughtlessly stuff receipts, bank slips and other bits of information into our wallets and purses until we can sort through them “later,” which may not happen for days, or ever! This habit can lead to disaster. A stolen wallet or purse is the number one most common means of identity theft, so it behooves us to re-think the ways we use them.
Here are 5 things that you should remove from your wallet or purse – right now – to minimize the risk of identity theft.
- Your social security card. By far, this is the one single worst thing to carry around with you. It has everything thieves need to open new credit accounts in your name, and even set up loans and major purchases like cars and homes. Retirees: Medicare cards have Social Security numbers on them, too – so leave them at home.
- Spare Keys. A wallet usually contains your driver license, with your address on it. When you add a spare key to your wallet, which is then found by thieves, you are handing an engraved invitation to criminals to pay an unexpected visit.
- Checks of any kind. Obviously you shouldn’t be carrying around blank checks, but filled-out checks can be washed and used by someone else. Plus the routing numbers allow thieves to electronically transfer funds to anywhere they choose.
- Receipts of any kind. While businesses are no longer permitted to print more than the last 5 digits of your credit card number or expiration date on receipts, there are still bits of information identity thieves can use to search out the remaining numbers. Make a habit of clearing out receipts daily and shred the ones you don’t need.
- A list of passwords. These days most people have at least seven passwords and PIN numbers, and it starts to get challenging to remember them all. If you must write them down, do not carry them with you – and if possible, you should place your list in a safe.