If you’ve ever lost your wallet, you know the disruption and inconvenience that it causes.
However, you may not even realize how dangerous losing your wallet can be when it comes to protecting your personal privacy. There could be major consequences way worse than having to call and cancel a credit card, so be sure you take any of the following items out of your wallet today.
1. Extra credit and debit cards
It’s a good idea to only carry the credit and debit cards you use regularly. That way, if you lose your wallet, you’ll have fewer cards to cancel and replace. Plus, leaving the other ones at home makes it less easy for a criminal to gain access to multiple bank accounts and credit lines. Also, it’ll be easier to keep track of your spending if you’re only using a few cards. So, go ahead and take out those extra cards, and store them in a safe place at home. You’ll thank yourself later.
2. Social Security card
There are rare days you’ll ever need to have your physical social security card. Memorizing the numbers is enough, and leaving it in a fire-proof safe with other important documents is the best option when it comes to your SSN. There are a ton of social security scams out there, and carrying the physical card makes your number way more accessible for any criminals hoping to get their hands on your identity. You can check out my top recommendations for safeguarding against social security fraud by clicking here.
If you have a passport or even a more conveniently sized passport ID card, you should definitely not carry that around as your main form of identity. Replacing a passport takes a lot more effort than replacing a lost driver’s license. It could also cause problems related to identity theft or disrupt your future travel plans.
4. Blank check
If you carry a checkbook or even a blank check “just in case,” and you were to lose it, you’ve just given any thief full access to your account. Someone can write a check to themselves and cash it before you’re even aware it may be missing. It is important to keep track of your checks and monitor your account regularly to prevent any unauthorized transactions.
5. Birth certificate
Just like your Social Security card, your birth certificate should be placed in a fireproof safe and should never be carried in your physical wallet. If it is stolen, thieves could do some major damage to your finances if they have it in conjunction with other personal information such as your name, address and date of birth. That could lead to identity theft and other fraudulent activities.
6. Unredeemed gift cards
If you have gift cards that haven’t been fully redeemed, and you aren’t planning on using them immediately, don’t carry them in your wallet. Leave them in an easily accessible location labeled with how much money is left, instead of carrying them around. Gift cards are the same value as cash, and if your wallet gets stolen, you’ve just lost free money to a criminal, in addition to everything else in your wallet.
7. Library card
While this may have less-serious effects, a criminal could use a library card maliciously by borrowing a number of books and reselling them instead of returning them. That could result in a loss of resources for the library and its visitors.
8. Medicare card
Don’t carry a Medicare card in your wallet. While Medicare cards no longer display your social security card, losing yours could still have detrimental consequences, including someone fraudulently using your Medicare benefits if they were to get ahold of your card.
If you write a list of passwords down, don’t keep the physical list in your wallet. If you do, and your wallet is lost or stolen, you’ve given someone direct access to so many of your accounts, and it could result in them being compromised. Instead, consider using a password manager, which securely stores and generates complex passwords, reducing the risk of password reuse. Check out the best expert-reviewed password managers of 2023 at Cyberguy.com/Passwords.
10. Membership cards
It’s a good idea to avoid carrying membership cards for gyms, clubs or other organizations in your wallet. These cards often contain personal information such as your name, address and phone number. If your wallet is lost or stolen, this information could be used for identity theft. It’s best to only carry the membership cards you use regularly and leave the others at home in a safe place.