According to some recent reports, more than twelve million Americans were the victims of identity theft last year. Unfortunately, the information identity thieves are looking for can be easily found in your wallet.
This is why it’s so important to know what’s in there. Here are five things you should not carry in your wallet:
1. Social Security Card or Medicare card: If you have these in your wallet, you might want to reconsider that decision. With identity theft being so pervasive, the last thing you want to lose is the one card which identifies every aspect of your financial and personal life. Keep your SSN card in a safety deposit box at your local bank or in a locked box somewhere in your home. In the rare instance that you might actually need it, maybe for a new job, just make the trip to your financial institution on the way to and from the place of employment. Your social security card might seem like just an innocent little card, but in the hand of an identity thief, this is a golden ticket to commit a crime. When it comes to your Medicare card, you can refer to the ITRC’s Fact Sheet on Medicare Cards.
2. Blank Checks (or Deposit Slip): Are you writing a check today? Most likely, you conduct most transactions using credit or debit cards, or maybe even cash. Checks provide thieves with a significant piece of personal information since they include your name, address, bank name, routing number and account number. All of this information is a key for thieves to tap into online transfers and electronically move money from your account to theirs. It is important to make a note of the fact that deposit slips also bear all of this information as well.
3. Password Cheat Sheet: Some studies show that many Americans use 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 symbol. It is important to keep these passwords private (don’t’ share with others) and change every thirty to ninety days. When it comes to your passwords you can refer to the ITRC’s Fact Sheet on Passwords.
4. Medical Card: You should never carry your medical card with you, unless in preparation, a visit to the doctor’s office. The medical card has your social security number that can be used for credit cards, doctor’s visit. We suggest that you keep your card in a safe place.
5. Numerous Credit Cards: Stop carrying numerous credit cards and limit the number to just a couple. You don’t really need to carry every single department store card unless you are planning to go on a shopping spree. Carrying fewer credit cards minimizes the amount of financial damage that can be done by an identity thief. Try toting just one or two cards from only the major credit issuers (Visa and MasterCard). Chances are they have lower interest rates as well.