As technology expands, so does the risk of identity theft in America. As a result, citizens do all they can to protect their online information, especially their finances.
With all these extra precautions to protect one’s money and online assets, a physical key often gets overlooked: your wallet.
An article from ABC News discusses what you should—and shouldn’t—keep in your wallet to best prevent identity theft and protect your financial information.
More than 15 million Americans have their identities used fraudulently every year. Even scarier, the personal information thieves are after can usually be found right in your back pocket.
First, let’s look at what you should keep in your wallet:
- Credit cards: You should carry a credit card, but only one if you can. The amount of credit cards per person is decreasing, with many people only having two. The more cards you carry, the more likely you are to over-extend yourself. Also, if you have a credit card in your wallet but never use it, it adds to your available credit, which affects your credit rating.
- Cash: It is important to carry some cash. According to the ABC News article, studies show that people often spend 12-18 percent more when they use credit cards versus cash. Also, you don’t want to use your credit or debit card to buy things like gum and other small purchases. If you’re only paying the minimum balance, you could end up paying interest on those tiny purchases.
- Receipts: It’s smart to keep receipts to track spending, so keeping them in your wallet on a daily basis is a good idea. But, the little paper slips also clutter your wallet and could contain information useful to identify thieves. So, it’s a good idea to take empty them out of your wallet every night.
Now let’s look at what not to keep in your wallet:
- Social Security card: Absolutely do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet. If it lands in the wrong person’s possession, it could be used for anything—buying a car to opening a credit card.
- Passports: Even if you’re in a foreign country, leave your passport in the hotel and just carry a photocopy of the picture page.
- Pins and passwords: We all have it: a list of passwords because we just can’t remember them all. This would be like a gold mine to an identity thief. Keep these at home in a safe place.
- Expired cards: Just because old credit cards or membership cards have expired doesn’t mean identity thieves can’t use them. Most of them will have your name on them and possibly your address or other information. The less info you risk giving out, the better.
Remember, if you wallet gets stolen, make sure you file a police report immediately. Also, contact all three credit reporting agencies, your credit card companies, and your bank.