Purse in car

Car safety does not just apply to how you drive. It also applies to what you leave behind. Our vehicles can often feel like a home away from home, especially for busy people with a lot on their plates. At any given time, your car might contain a change of clothes in your gym bag, some snacks or your lunch, a few extra water bottles that were supposed to go in the house and other random supplies that see us through the day.

While there is little harm in leaving some band-aids and spare change in the car, there are certain items that should not be left in a vehicle. Medicines, food, important papers, documents and even your devices should never be unattended, even in a locked vehicle.

Unfortunately, this practice is all-too-common, especially in the connected-everywhere world we live in. Leaving laptops, tablets, smartphones, wallets and even GPS-based devices in your vehicle can have disastrous results if an identity thief helps themselves. Here are some things to do when considering car safety:

Safety First

All concerns about your identity aside, keeping these kinds of items in your vehicle can be a problem in a collision or other kind of accident. A briefcase or electronic device on your front seat can become a projectile under the wrong conditions. A heavy backpack or briefcase can also trigger the airbag sensor in your car, making a minor accident in which the driver’s airbag deploys even more expensive if the passenger-side airbag goes off needlessly.

Enact car safety and lock up all bags and devices that are not actively part of operating the vehicle. Stow them in the backseat if there are no passengers back there, or put them in the trunk or rear of the vehicle.

Keep It Secure

If your laptop or mobile device is stolen, replacing the expensive device might be the least of your worries. Keep a thief out of your email account, retailers’ apps and social media accounts by passcode protecting your device. After too many failed attempts, the device will become useless and your information will be safe.

Paper or Plastic?

You might think a stack of paper is useless to anyone—except for the employee who is bringing home paperwork to do. However, an identity thief might help themselves to those documents in hopes of stealing personally identifiable information after breaking out a window in your car. Exercise car safety and keep them out of sight where they cannot tempt a potential criminal.

Handbags Are Begging to Be Stolen

The rise of mobile payment apps means that our shopping just got a little more hands-free. The ability to pay with our phones means no more lugging a giant handbag or an overstuffed wallet with us. However, leaving your handbag or wallet in the car is a bad idea, even if it does not contain anything a thief can use. Just seeing it might be enough for someone to break the window and snatch it up, leaving you with a headache and a hefty repair bill.

Heading into the New Year, take a few moments to think about car safety habits that can lead to identity theft and other crimes and those that can help you reduce your risk. Here is wishing an identity-safe holiday season for us all!


Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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