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8 Things Not to Keep in Your Wallet

By Emily Inverso | Kiplinger Mon, Jul 9, 2012 1:00 PM EDT

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That overstuffed wallet of yours cant be comfortable to sit on. Its probably even too clunky to
lug around in a purse, too.
And with every new bank slip that bulges from the seams, your personal information is getting
less and less safe. With just your name and Social Security number, identity thieves can open
new credit accounts and make costly purchases in your name. If they can get their hands on (and
doctor) a government-issued photo ID, they can do even more damage, such as opening new
bank accounts. These days, con artists are even profiting from tax-return fraud and health-care
fraud, all with stolen IDs.
[More from Kiplinger: How to Protect Your Identity, Finances If You Lose Your Phone]

We talked with consumer-protection advocates to identify the eight things you should purge from
your wallet immediately to limit your risk in case your wallet is lost or stolen.
And when youre finished removing your wallets biggest information leaks, take a moment to
photocopy everything youve left inside, front and back. Stash the copies in a secure location at
home or in a safe-deposit box. The last thing you want to be wondering as you're reporting a
stolen wallet is, What exactly did I have in there?
1. Your Social Security Card...
...and anything with the number on it.
Your nine-digit Social Security number is all a savvy ID thief needs to open new credit card
accounts or loans in your name. ID-theft experts say your Social Security card is the absolute
worst item to carry around.
Once youve removed your card, look for anything else that may contain your SSN. As of
December 2005, states can no longer display your SSN on newly issued driver's licenses, state
ID cards and motor-vehicle registrations. If you still have an older photo ID, request a new card
prior to the expiration date. There might be an additional fee, but it's worth it to protect your
identity.
Retirees, pull out your Medicare card, too, because it has your SSN on it. Instead: Photocopy
your Medicare card (front and back), black out the last four digits of your SSN on the copy, and
carry it with you instead of your real card.
[More from Kiplinger: The 5 Money Smartest (and 5 Money Dumbest) States]
2. Password Cheat Sheet
The average American uses 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 symbols, and you should change them
regularly. Is it any wonder we need help keeping track of them all?
However, carrying your ATM cards PIN number and a collection of passwords (especially those
for online access to banking and investment accounts) on a scrap of paper in your wallet is a
prescription for financial disaster.
Instead: If you have to keep passwords jotted down somewhere, keep them in a locked box in
your house. Or consider an encrypted mobile app, such as SplashID ($9.95; Android, Blackberry,
iPad, iPhone), Password Safe Pro (free, Android only) or Pocket (free, Android only).
[Related: Common Money Traps to Avoid]
3. Spare Keys

A lost wallet containing your home address (likely found on your driver's license or other items)
and a spare key is an invitation for burglars to do far more harm than just opening a credit card in
your name. Don't put your property and family at risk. (And even if your home isn't robbed after
losing a spare key, you'll likely spend $100+ in locksmith fees to change the locks for peace of
mind.)
Instead: Keep your spare keys with a trusted relative or friend. If youre ever locked out, it may
take a little bit longer to retrieve your backup key, but thats a relatively minor inconvenience.
4. Checks
Blank checks are an obvious riskan easy way for thieves to quickly withdraw money from
your checking account. But even a lost check you've already filled out can lead to financial loss
perhaps long after you've canceled and forgotten about it. With the routing and account
numbers on your check, anybody could electronically transfer funds from your account.
Instead: Only carry paper checks when you will absolutely need them. And leave the checkbook
at home, bringing only the exact amount of checks you anticipate needing that day.
[More from Kiplinger: 10 Riskiest Places to Give Your Social Security Number]
5. Passport
A government-issued photo ID such as a passport opens up a world of possibilities for an ID
thief. Theives would love to get (ahold of) this, says Nikki Junker, a victim adviser at the
Identity Theft Resource Center. You could use it for anythingincluding traveling in your
name, opening bank accounts or even getting a new copy of your Social Security card.
Instead: Carry only your drivers license or other personal ID while traveling inside the United
States. When you're overseas, photocopy your passport and leave the original in a hotel lockbox.
6. Multiple Credit Cards
Although you shouldnt ditch credit cards altogether (those who regularly carry a card tend to
have higher credit scores than those who dont), consider a lighter load. After all, the more cards
you carry, the more youll have to cancel if your wallet is lost or stolen. We recommend carrying
a single card for unplanned or emergency purchases, plus perhaps an additional rewards card on
days when you expect to buy gas or groceries.
Also: Maintain a list, someplace other than your wallet, with all the cancellation numbers for
your credit cards. They are typically listed on the back of your cards, but that wont do you much
good when your wallet is nowhere to be found.
[Related: How Hackers Attack]

7. Birth Certificate
The birth certificate itself wont get ID thieves very far. However, birth certificates could be
used in correlation with other types of fraudulent IDs, Junker says. Once you have those
components, you can do the same things you could with a passport or a Social Security card.
Be especially cautious on occasionssuch as your mortgage closingwhen you may need to
present your birth certificate, Social Security card and other important personal documents at
once. Everythings together, Junker notes, and someone can just come along and steal them
all. Take the time to take them home, and dont leave them in your car.
8. A Stack of Receipts
Beginning in December 2003, businesses may not print anything containing your credit or debit
cards expiration date or more than the last five digits of your credit card number. Still, a crafty
ID thief can use the limited credit card info and merchant information on receipts to phish for
your remaining numbers.
Instead: Clear those receipts out each night, shredding the ones you dont need. But for receipts
you save, keep them safe by going digital. Apps such as Lemon and Shoeboxed create and
categorize digital copies of your receipts and business cards.
More from Kiplinger:

QUIZ: Is Your Identity At Risk?

10 Online Shopping Traps to Avoid

11 Credit Card Mistakes to Avoid

@yahoofinance on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook


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tubluklawe 4 hours ago
whats puzzling to me is I can't open a credit account on my own and yet crooks can with
just a few numbers!
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Paul4 hours ago
They have crooks who work INSIDE tthe bank!

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MattG3 hours ago
Yeah, they're the CEOs!!

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Chuck2 hours 59 minutes ago


yes you can just lie as the crooks will
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PatricParamedic Irvine, California 20 hours ago
Keys? Birth Certificate? Passport?
What size of wallet do you think we carry?
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xtra12 hours ago
have plastic credit caRD SIZE "KEY" THAT OPENS CAR DOOR, SAVED MY
NECK IN THE BACK WOODS ON VACATION ONCE.

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Florence10 hours ago
Indeed, the "a" is right next to the CAPS LOCK.

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ClassicSporty9 hours ago
Why would you even carry those 2nd two things unless you were going to need
them that day???
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mytwocents 12 hours ago
Who the heck carries their birth certificate around?
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Benjamin4 hours ago
Ha,ha he doesn't carry one around, just the template. Your name here----

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Me4 hours ago


wow.......grow up people.........pretend to be an adult at least..maybe you need to
carry your birth certificate so people will know your passing for adults!

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K in Tex4 hours ago
I once worked with a guy that carried his birth certificate and social security card
around with him. He was paranoid that someone would break into his apartment
and steal them. Then he lost his wallet!! He also would not have mail delivered to
his apartment because he was afraid that someone... More
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cat 3 hours ago
I don't carry money in my wallet... but it's not for safety, I'm just broke :(
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howard2 hours 56 minutes ago
I know the feeling,Cat.

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JCrab2 hours 14 minutes ago
chances are if i had a dollar for very long it would die of loneliness

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Lolly K2 hours 9 minutes ago
Join the club
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Banana Republic of Americ ... Deforest, Wisconsin 4 hours ago
Okay, I took everything out of my wallet, but now how do we stop the crooks in
Washington, the banks and Wall St. from stealing from us?
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Judy3 hours ago


Some people have run up more debit than they can pay and the banks did let them
do that, but as responsible adults people should learn how to manage their money
better, economise, be more thrifty.

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Dave3 hours ago
Viva La Revolution!

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Kurt3 hours ago
You can't. It is possible, by inflationary policies and printing of worthless money,
to even turn your savings into half their value overnight. No vault can save us.
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Banana Republic of Americ ... Deforest, Wisconsin 4 hours ago
I can't remember any of my passwords. If any of you hackers know what they are, can
you let me know?
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bandito Encino, California 4 hours ago
Only George Constanza carries all that around.
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Zerosaurus Rochester, New York 4 hours ago
Receipts? The thief has my wallet with my credit cards in it. And they're going to use
receipts to figure out my credit card number?
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Chris 3 hours ago
#7 - Be especially cautious on occasionssuch as your mortgage closingwhen you
may need to present your birth certificate,... ?????
Who needs a birth certificate at a morgage closing? I've been to a few closing in my days
and was never ask for a birth certificate; nor have I... More
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Daemonicus 13 hours ago
Would a passport even fit in a wallet?
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Alumbrado de Cathay Memphis, Tennessee 4 hours ago
A passport inside a wallet? Birth certificate? And where should you carry your driver's
license, credit cards and so forth? In your shoe?
Where does Yahoo get these yahoos?
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bill f New York, New York 4 hours ago
I walk around with a copy of my mother in law's birth certificate in my wallet just in case
it's stolen.
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Marilyn G Surfside, California 3 hours ago

If I'm in an accident ans taken to a hospital, they will look for my insurance information.
I carry my medicare and Blue Shield cards. They are always in my wallet. Oh, by the
way, our government was smart enough (?) to put my social security number as my
medicare number.
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Shelley 3 hours ago
If it's this easy to steal IDs, maybe we need a better system. Isn't the bank responsible for
cashing checks we didn't write? Isn't the credit card company on the hook for
unauthorized purchases on a stolen card? What's the point of a passport that anyone can
use?
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Nomad 2 hours 25 minutes ago
you steal my identity and see my criminal history, you'll give it back
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jerru 4 hours ago

What a dumb article. Here are some other, similar, things not to keep in your wallet:
- An elephant
- Tomato juice... More
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FrankBD 9 hours ago
Sounds like naked pictures of your wife are OK.
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LinusVP 9 hours ago
Just try using a photocopy of a medicare card as a new patient. Good Luck With That!
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Have a nice day. 12 hours ago
Isn't keeping receipts in your wallet safer than using an app to make a digital copy stored
on a hard drive?
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if it break when it bend ... Verndale, Minnesota 2 hours 2 minutes ago
Which items do I remove to keep illegal immigrants from stealing my tax dollars?
2 Replies