Americans are carrying less cash in their wallet these days — 8 in 10 carry less than $50 on a regular basis — but that doesn’t mean we’re walking around with nearly empty wallets. On the contrary, it seems like many people try to pack as many items into their wallets as humanly possible. It’s better to be over prepared, right?
When it comes to your wallet, less is more. If someone were to steal your wallet, there’s not just the worry that they’ll run off with a few bucks. A stolen wallet can lead to identity theft if the thief uses all of your personal details to completely steal your identity. Certain things, like your driver’s license and a credit or debit card, are almost always going to be in your wallet, but you have control over what else you store inside. Here are a few things you should always avoid carrying in your wallet:
- Social Security card: Social Security numbers are the holy grail for identity thieves. Getting their hands on that 9-digit string of numbers can open a lot of doors for them (and cause a lot of trouble for you). There is no good reason why anyone should be walking around on a daily basis with their Social Security card in their wallet. If you just started a new job and they need to make a copy of the card, bring it in — but take it out of your wallet and store it securely as soon as you return home.
- Additional credit cards: Try to only carry one credit card at a time because if your wallet is stolen, multiple cards give thieves more opportunities to make fraudulent charges. Aside from that, it’s simply more work on your end to cancel and replace all of the cards once they’re lost.
- Extra keys: Some people keep an extra car key or house key in their wallet in the event they accidentally get locked out. It’s great to have a backup key for those instances but don’t keep it in your wallet. If someone steals your wallet, they’ll have your key and your driver’s license — which tells them exactly where you live. There’s a real chance that you wouldn’t just suffer the loss of your wallet — your house could be burglarized, or you could wake up one morning and find your car has disappeared.
- Passwords or PINS: We have to remember so many different passwords and PINs these days that some people write them all down and store them in their wallets. Unfortunately, if a criminal gets their hands on your wallet, they’ll have all of your passwords as well. Consider using a digital password manager
- Blank checks: If you’re still stuck in the past and carrying your checkbook around, take it out of your wallet right now. Blank checks have your bank account numbers right on them, and anyone who steals your wallet will have free reign to write themselves sizable checks. Stick to cash and cards.
Having your wallet stolen can lead to identity theft, but you can reduce that risk by paying attention to the items that you’re carrying around with you on a daily basis. IdentityForce members also have the added benefit of Lost Wallet Assistance, which gives them a place to store all of their essential card numbers in the event their wallet is stolen or misplaced.