Far too many of us have adopted a daily exercise routine that’s actually bad for our security and possibly even our health. What is this scary weight lifting routine that we use all day long, everywhere we go? Carrying an overstuffed wallet, one that may be filled with more harm than good.
If you’re like a lot of other consumers, your wallet or purse can easily become the dumping ground for an eclectic mix of papers, documents, photos, and payment methods. Some of those items are important and should be carried at all times. Others are so dangerous they should never see the light of day unless you are actively using them (more on that below). But the reality is that far too many of us are carrying around papers and cards that we simply don’t need, yet still, pose a potential identity theft threat.
Before getting into the danger to your personal data security, medical professionals have long warned against carrying an overstuffed wallet in your back pocket or purse. The added weight, combined with its uneven positioning on one side of your body, can be bad for your posture and circulation.
But more importantly, a chock-full wallet often contains loads of superfluous identifying items, like some of the following:
1. Social Security Card – There is no reason whatsoever to carry your Social Security card with you at all times. You most likely will need to present the card when accepting a new job (note: not when simply applying, do not provide your number on the application) and possibly when applying for a driver’s license. Otherwise, carrying the card is a bad idea. Even if your wallet is simply lost or permanently damaged, the hassle of replacing it is significant. More importantly, in the wrong hands, this card is the ultimate piece of your identity puzzle.
2. Additional Credit Cards – There are two good reasons to leave the spare credit cards locked up at home. First, you’re less likely to overspend; if you hesitate to put more purchases on your everyday card but have instant access to a backup card or store-specific credit card, it’s easy to trick yourself into thinking you’ll pay it off immediately. More importantly, if your wallet goes missing, you’ve handed a thief, even more, cards.
3. Rewards Cards – It might seem counterintuitive to sign up for bonus points or rewards cards and then leave them at home, but they are yet another key to your accounts if your wallet is stolen. Also, many businesses who issue these loyalty cards can apply your purchase points by looking up your phone number. You might keep your gas station or grocery store loyalty points card in your wallet because they’re commonplace purchases, but leave something like the one from the electronics store at home until you’re buying that new TV.
4. Old Receipts – You have every good intention of hanging onto your receipt until you no longer need it, or until you have a chance to destroy it before disposing. Those are great habits to maintain! But if your wallet fills up with little slips of paper before you get around to cleaning it out, you might be carrying a lot of identifying information. The last four digits of your card number—a common security question when calling your financial institution—may be on the receipt, as well as the card’s expiration date. Depending on where you made the purchase, your signature might be sitting there as well, ready to help a thief sign your name.
By cleaning out the clutter of your wallet, you’ll be doing your identity a favor. And who knows? Keeping that wallet cleaned out might motivate you to follow through on that “get organized” resolution you made for the coming year!
Questions about identity theft? Contact the ITRC toll-free at (888) 400-5530 or on-the-go with the new IDTheftHelp app for iOS and Android.