8 Things You Should Never Keep in Your Wallet

The Ripoff Alert is a new series appearing once each week on Fridays. It alerts you to the latest scams and ripoffs trying to get between you and your money, and gives you information you need to stay safe. This is #15 in the series. 

With our crazy schedules, it seems these days our wallets and purses become collection bins for all types of stuff. Receipts, spare keys, password lists – anything you can think of. But I’ll show you why this isn’t a good idea.

We’ll start off with a list of 8 things you should never keep in your wallet from Kiplinger:

1. Social Security card

2. Password cheat sheet

3. Spare keys

4. Checks

5. Passport

6. Multiple credit cards

7. Birth certificate

8. A stack of receipts

  • Your Social Security card – along with your birth certificate and passport – are forms of identity you won’t need on a regular basis. They’re best left at home in a safe or at the bank in a safe deposit box. Anything with your Social Security number on it should also be removed. The only form of ID you should carry in your wallet is your driver’s license.
  • It’s a good idea to write down your passwords so you don’t forget them; just don’t keep them in your wallet. Even better, use an online password-management program like LastPass to store them securely. With LastPass you just have to remember your master password. Each time you visit a website it automatically fills in your username and password for you. Your passwords are encrypted with a special code, which means that even if someone was able to break into your account they couldn’t see your private data.
  • Being locked out of the house is annoying. But think about it – if your spare key is right next to your driver’s license (which has your home address on it) – you’re making it too easy for criminals. Instead, keep your spare with a trusted friend or neighbor.
  • Many of us have more than one credit card, but it’s best to leave most of them at home. By law your liability is limited to $50 if your credit card is stolen and used to make fraudulent purchases. If your debit card is stolen and you don’t report it within two business days, you could be liable for up to $500. I recommend carrying only the credit cards you use regularly (but no more than two total.) You can always call and cancel your cards if you wallet is stolen, but you want to limit the hassle you would have to go through.
  • Checks, especially blank ones, are an open invitation to loot your checking account. With your routing and account numbers, criminals have all they need to debit your account continually. They might also write checks as if they’re you, and if they bounce you could face a serious federal crime. Keep your checkbook at home to limit your risk.
  • Finally, get rid of those old receipts. It’s against the law for businesses to list your full card number on receipts, but the information on there gives criminals a head start in finding the remaining numbers. Keep important receipts at home in a safe place.

Bonus tip: After removing these items, make a copy of anything that’s left. That way if your wallet is stolen you won’t be left wondering what you had in there.

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