Saturday, April 13, 2013

8 Things to Never Keep in Your Wallet

That overstuffed wallet of yours can’t be comfortable to sit on. It’s probably even too clunky to lug around in a purse, too.

And with every new bank slip that bulges from the seams, your personal information is getting less and less safe. With just your name and Social Security number, identity thieves can open new credit accounts and make costly purchases in your name. If they can get their hands on (and doctor) a government-issued photo ID, they can do even more damage, such as opening new bank accounts. These days, con artists are even profiting from tax-return fraud and health-care fraud, all with stolen IDs.

Consumer-protection advocates have identified the eight things you should purge from your wallet immediately to limit your risk in case your wallet is lost or stolen. 

And when you’re finished removing your wallet’s biggest information leaks, photocopy everything you’ve left inside, front and back. Stash the copies in a secure location at home or in a safe-deposit box. The last thing you want to be wondering as you're reporting a stolen wallet is, “What exactly did I have in there?” 

1) Your Social Security Card
...and anything with the number on it.

Your nine-digit Social Security number is all a savvy ID thief needs to open new credit card accounts or loans in your name. ID-theft experts say your Social Security card is the absolute worst item to carry around. 

2) Password Cheat Sheets
he average American uses at least seven different passwords (and probably should use even more to avoid repeating them on multiple sites/accounts). Ideally, each of those passwords should be a unique combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, and you should change them regularly. Is it any wonder we need help keeping track of them all?

However, carrying your ATM card’s PIN number and a collection of passwords (especially those for online access to banking and investment accounts) on a scrap of paper in your wallet is a prescription for financial disaster.

Instead: If you have to keep passwords jotted down somewhere, keep them in a locked box in your house. Or consider an encrypted mobile app, such as SplashID ($9.95; Android, Blackberry, iPad, iPhone), Password Safe Pro (free, Android only) or Pocket (free, Android only). 

3) Spare Keys
A lost wallet containing your home address (likely found on your driver's license or other items) and a spare key is an invitation for burglars to do far more harm than just opening a credit card in your name. Don't put your property and family at risk. 

4) Checks
Blank checks are an obvious risk—an easy way for thieves to quickly withdraw money from your checking account. But even a lost check you've already filled out can lead to financial loss—perhaps long after you've canceled and forgotten about it. With the routing and account numbers on your check, anybody could electronically transfer funds from your account.  

5) Passport
A government-issued photo ID such as a passport opens up a world of possibilities for an ID thief. “Thieves would love to get (ahold of) this,” says Nikki Junker, a victim adviser at the Identity Theft Resource Center. “You could use it for anything”—including traveling in your name, opening bank accounts or even getting a new copy of your Social Security card.

6) Multiple Credit Cards
Although you shouldn’t ditch credit cards altogether (those who regularly carry a card tend to have higher credit scores than those who don’t), consider a lighter load. After all, the more cards you carry, the more you’ll have to cancel if your wallet is lost or stolen. Instead, carry a single card for unplanned or emergency purchases. 

7) Birth Certificate
The birth certificate itself won’t get ID thieves very far. However, “birth certificates could be used in correlation with other types of fraudulent IDs,” Junker says. “Once you have those components, you can do the same things you could with a passport or a Social Security card.” 

8) A Stack of Receipts
As of 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.  

Apps such as Lemon and Shoeboxed create and categorize digital copies of your receipts and business cards. 

1 comment:

  1. 7) not helpful...your driver's license is most likely in the wallet, so your birthday is already on that

    ReplyDelete

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