When you choose items to go into your wallet, you typically have a few goals in mind. Usually, the first priority is to ensure certain necessary items are accessible, like your driver’s license or debit card. However, some people also carry around additional items, predominately because it seems convenient. The issue is, some things are incredibly risky to keep with you, leaving you open to identity theft, fraud, or other hardships if you misplace your wallet or the items fall out. If you want to make sure you’re as protected as possible, don’t keep these 7 things in your wallet.
1. Social Security or Passport Card
Identity theft is much easier for a fraudster to pull off if they have access to your Social Security number. Since your Social Security card isn’t something you regularly use, carrying it around means you’re taking an unnecessary risk.
Ideally, your Social Security card should be stored in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe in your home or a safe deposit box at a bank. That way, it is accessible on days you do need it – such as if you have to present it to complete an I-9 verification for a new job – but won’t easily fall into the hands of someone else.
Technically, you also shouldn’t carry any documents or notes with your Social Security number on them, especially in your wallet. Your ID card or driver’s license contains a lot of your personal information. If you lose your wallet and it also has your Social Security number on a piece of paper inside, you’re making it particularly easy for them to steal your identity.
The same goes for passport cards. While they are convenient for border crossings, they also contain a ton of personal information. Unless you’re planning on crossing a border or need it for an I-9 verification, leave it securely stored elsewhere.
2. Credit Cards You Don’t Use Regularly
Carrying credit cards that you don’t use frequently creates an extra level of risk. Even if you notice your wallet is missing quickly, it takes time to contact every issuer to let them know your card is missing. That could give a criminal enough time to use your card before you get it canceled.
While you may want to keep your main credit card and debit card with you, reconsider any extras. For example, you may want to lock up your store cards in a fireproof safe, only removing them when you plan to shop at that store. Not only is that safer, but it could also reduce the urge to impulse shop, which could make it easier to keep your budget on track.
3. PINs and Passwords
Some people struggle to remember their debit card PIN and various account passwords. While keeping it on a piece of paper might seem convenient, it also means that someone else gets access to it if you lose your wallet. Thieves will have an easier time using your card, as they can enter the PIN directly, or could the passwords to break into your bank accounts.
Similarly, writing your PIN on the back of the card is a no-go. You never want a copy of your PIN and your card in the same place, as that makes it much easier for someone to use the card without your permission.
If you have trouble remembering, you may want to use a password keeper app. That way, you only need to remember one password, and the rest will be securely encrypted inside the app.
A check – whether blank or filled out – contains a lot of information that a fraudster could use to steal money from the connected account. Along with the accountholder’s name and address, the routing number and account number both appear on paper checks. That could be enough detail for a criminal to initiate a transaction, allowing them to take money out of your account.
If the check is blank, that’s even riskier. If you drop your wallet and it contains an ID card, driver’s license, debit card, or another item with your signature, the person who finds it could use that as a reference. Then, they could write themselves a check, fake your signature, and get the money that way, too.
5. Extra Cash
If you’re a fan of the envelope budgeting system, you may get in the habit of carrying large sums of cash. While that may be necessary if you’re about to handle a major shopping trip, it isn’t wise to walk about with big amounts of money when you’re not about to shop.
Instead of keeping all of the envelopes on you at all times, leave them secured in a fireproof safe. Then, remove only the ones you need when you’re about to shop.
Additionally, while it might be less comfortable, you may want to avoid carrying large bills, like $100 bills. If someone notices that you’re removing large bills from your wallet, that could make you a target. While having to carry a stack of $20s means a thicker wallet, it could be a wise move.
It’s important to remember that, unlike with credit or debit cards, there’s no fraud protection with cash. Often, if you lose your wallet and someone removes the money, recovering it is practically impossible.
6. Extra Gift Cards
Like cash, gift cards are hard to recover if they are stolen. As a result, it’s best not to carry any you aren’t planning on using that day in your wallet. That way, if you misplace your wallet, you don’t have to worry about their value being stolen.
Additionally, if you have the option of registering your gift card online, consider doing it. Usually, this process is required for online purchases, allowing the card to be associated with a physical address for traditional verifications. As an added bonus, it could make it harder for a thief to use your card, suggesting they didn’t manage to get their hands on your driver’s license or ID, too.
Without your zip code, they can’t make it through the verification process. However, if they do have your ID, they can input the right information while checking out. But that doesn’t mean that registering isn’t worth doing, as it could offer you a degree of protection.
7. Spare House, Car, or Valet Keys
While many people worry about what they’ll do if they lose their house or car key, keeping the spares – even the valet key – in your wallet isn’t ideal. If you do happen to misplace your wallet, the person who finds it can do more damage than just take your money. For example, they could use the address on your driver’s license or ID to locate your home, using the key to gain access. They could then keep an eye out for your arrival and take advantage of the spare car keep to steal your vehicle.
If you’re concerned about getting locked out of your home or car, your best bet may be to give the spare to a trusted friend or family member. Then, if you lose your keys, you can contact them for assistance.
Can you think of anything else people shouldn’t keep in their wallets? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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