Fox Business has posted an article that gives some pointers on what you should never carry in your purse or wallet on a daily basis. Some personal items you may carry can significantly increase your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft if your wallet or purse is stolen. Some of the items that can put you at risk aren’t surprising, but others are.
1. Your Social Security Card You may carry it around in case you need another form of identification, but really it’s better to just memorize the 9 digits and leave the card at home in a safe place. If your SS Card falls into the wrong hands, someone can take a loan out in your name and cause all kinds of identity theft issues.
2. Your Passport If you’re travelling outside the US it’s much safer to lock your passport in the hotel safe and instead carry a photocopy of it along with your driver’s license instead. If you’re mugged overseas and your passport is taken, it can turn into a vacation nightmare. If you’re travelling domestically, your driver’s license is a sufficient form of identification; leave the passport at home.
3. PIN Numbers and Passwords Most PIN numbers are just 4 digits, but some people like to write them down and keep them in their wallets. Some people also write down the alarm code for their house, so in the event of their wallet being stolen they’ve given the thief a free pass to their bank accounts and access to their home. If you can’t remember all your PINs and passwords, it’s much safer to store them on a password protected phone rather than writing them down.
4. Non-Password Protected Phone Most smartphones today allow people instant access to their bank accounts and even medical records. Even if you only have your phone configured for email, the thief could still do a search for PIN numbers or ATM passwords. If you do store important personal information on your phone, be sure to have your phone password protected so a thief will have to wipe all your personal data to be able to change the password to use your phone.
5. Checkbook Your checkbook contains a surprising amount of information about you- your address, your phone number, your bank account and routing number, and possibly an imprint of your signature for the thief to duplicate. If you know you’re going to need a check, just tear one out and carry it with you. If you’re going to need multiple checks, go ahead and bring the checkbook but don’t get in the habit of always having it on your person.
6. Too Many Credit Cards Most people carry all their credit cards with them all the time, but if your wallet is stolen not only will you have to take the time to cancel every single card, you’ll also be without any cards for about a week. You should only carry the one or two cards you use daily and be sure to keep photocopies of the front and back of the cards at home. On the back of the card is the 1-800 number to report to report the card stolen, which isn’t very helpful if you don’t have the card.
7. Too Much Cash You should only bring as much cash with you as you’re prepared to lose. It’s best to just carry enough to be helpful in the event of an emergency. If you’re the type of person who pays for everything in cash, only carry enough for the day’s expenses because once your cash is stolen it’s gone forever.
8. Gift Certificates/Cards You may carry these items thinking that you may pass the store your certificate is for, but in truth, gift cards and certificates are just as risky as cash. Once they’re stolen, they don’t require an ID for use and are gone for good if stolen.
9. USB Devices and Jewelry
“It may sound silly, but if you’re changing earrings or heading from a business meeting, it’s very possible you may forget and toss these things in the zipper compartment of your wallet,” says Lin. USB devices can be bad news in the hands of thieves if they contain confidential files. “It would be horrible to get your wallet stolen any day, but if you’re also losing your grandmother’s earrings or a presentation you’ve been working on for months, it’s even worse!”
10. Receipts Receipts, like your checkbook, such as credit card information and your signature, which a thief could learn to forge. If you’re hanging onto a receipt for warranty purposes, it’s best to leave it at a safe place at home instead of carrying it with you. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of cleaning out your receipts every night and not carrying so many around with you all the time.
Identity theft is a huge problem, but if you use the tips above your risk of being crippled by identity theft are lowered significantly. If you have had problems with identity theft and have questions or concerns, feel free to contact us through our website or by calling 205-879-2447.
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