Identity theft has devastating consequences, and it's a crime that can affect your life for years. To minimize your risk, you have to take precautions to keep your personal information safe. Keeping a close eye on your wallet is one way to protect yourself, but there aren't any guarantees. A clever thief can use a variety of tactics to swipe your wallet without your knowledge, so the less personal information inside your wallet, the better.
It's okay to have a driver's license, an insurance card, a credit card or a debit card in your wallet. Some items, however, are better left at home. Here's a look at six things you shouldn't keep in your wallet.
Passwords and PIN
Between online banking and managing your credit cards online you might juggle several passwords and pins. And given how many financial institutions require passwords with a combination of upper and lowercase letters, special characters, etc., it's not always easy to remember your login information. Therefore, you might write down your passwords and keep them in a safe place. There are a lot of possible places to store passwords, but your wallet isn't one of them.
If someone steals your wallet, they'll not only have your credit or bank cards, but also your pin. A thief can go to your bank and empty your account before you realize there's a problem, or they can use your credit card to get a cash advance. It's okay to write down your passwords and pin, just make sure you leave this information at home.
Social Security Card
Unless you've been recently hired for a new job and your employer needs to see your Social Security card, there's no reason to travel with this document in your wallet. This is all the information a thief needs to apply for bank accounts, credit cards and loans in your name.
Keeping several receipts in your wallet not only takes up space, it increases the risk of identity theft. Although retailers only print the last four digits of your credit or debit card number on receipts, you shouldn't underestimate experienced thieves. They have tricks to figure out the remaining numbers. And once they have this information, they can go on a shopping spree's and max out your accounts.
Multiple Credit Cards
Only carry a credit card in your wallet if you're planning on making a purchase If you prefer a credit card with you at all times in case of an emergency, only carry one and leave the rest at home. You don't want to give a thief multiple opportunities to accumulate debt in your name. Besides, if only one of your cards is stolen, you'll only have to cancel one credit card, and it'll be easier to resolve the matter.
A dishonest person can steal your passport, change the photo and travel under your name. And since a passport is a government-approved ID, it can also be used to acquire loans and open bank accounts in your name. If you're traveling in a foreign country, keep your passport locked inside the hotel safe and carry a photocopy in your wallet.
Under no circumstances should you carry a birth certificate in your wallet. If this document gets into the wrong hands, a thief can literally steal your identity. They can assume your name, order a copy of your Social Security card, apply for a passport and acquire financial accounts in your name (banks accounts, auto loans, mortgages, student loans, credit cards). Keep this document at home, and report a stolen birth certificate to the police.