Digital identity theft is all over the news these days, but there’s also an old-fashioned way for people to get hold of your personal information.
Losing your wallet would prove devastating if it contained just your driver’s license, credit cards and cash. However, if you have more sensitive items inside, taking your wallet would be an identity thief’s dream come true.
Kiplinger has listed some of the items you should never keep in your wallet; here are eight of them.
1. Your Social Security card: Those nine digits are all a person needs to open credit cards in your name. Plus, how often are you asked for your Social Security card when you’re out and about? Keep it at home, in a safe place.
Retirees should also keep their Medicare cards at home, as they contain Social Security numbers.
2. Your password cheat sheet: Talk about making it easy for identity thieves! If you have a cheat sheet, store it in a locked box in your home. And memorize your ATM card’s PIN, if you can.
3. Your spare keys: Chances are, something inside your wallet has your address on it. Between that and a spare key, you’re giving a burglar an open invitation to your home.
Kiplinger recommends keeping your spare keys with a trusted friend or family member. “If you’re ever locked out, it may take a little bit longer to retrieve your backup key, but that’s a relatively minor inconvenience.”
4. Your blank checks: Having your account and routing numbers makes it far too easy for thieves to withdraw your money. Only carry a blank check if you plan to use it right away, and leave your checkbook at home.
5. Your passport: Are you leaving the country today? If not, keep your passport locked up in a safe place and present your driver’s license if asked for an ID.
Here’s a scary fact — a U.S. passport is extremely valuable on the black market and, according to the U.S. Department of State, passport fraud has been linked to instances of human smuggling, financial scams and international terrorism. So it bears repeating — keep your passport safe!
6. All of your credit cards: Multiple cards create a smorgasbord of theft opportunities and leave you with more work to do if your wallet is stolen. Instead, simply carry one or two cards — the ones you most often use to make purchases — or just one card for emergencies if you don’t typically pay with plastic.
Kiplinger also recommends making a list of all your credit cards’ cancellation numbers, just in case they are lost or stolen.
7. Your birth certificate: In the same vein as your Social Security card, this document is not something you’ll need every day. And while a birth certificate alone won’t be very useful to an identity thief, it can still be used in conjunction with other fraudulent IDs.
8. Lots of receipts: Plenty of us are guilty of stuffing receipts in our wallets. But according to Kiplinger:
Beginning in December 2003, businesses may not print anything containing your credit or debit card’s expiration date or more than the last five digits of your credit card number. Still, a crafty ID thief can use the limited credit card info and merchant information on receipts to phish for your remaining numbers.
It’s also wise to photocopy every item in your wallet — front and back — just in case. Keep the copies in a locked box.