You arrive home and reach in your back pocket or look in the back seat and get a sinking feeling realizing your wallet or your purse isn’t there. Have you ever experienced this?
We carry around some of our most sensitive information in our purse or wallet. Some things we almost have to carry with us like our driver’s license, some cash, or a debit or credit card. But we can limit the damage done by being very careful what we carry with us.
Here are some things you should never carry with you.
Social Security Card
You should never carry your social security card with you unless you are going somewhere that you know you will need to show it. That should be a very rare occurrence. In all other cases it should be kept locked in a secure location. You should also be careful not to have your social security number displayed on things you carry with you. As of 2005 states are no longer allowed to display your social security card on your driver’s license or state id cards, so that should no longer be an issue. Some medical insurance cards, including medicare, have social security numbers on them. If you have cards that have your social security number on them, only carry them when you need them.
It’s ok to carry one or two cards, but don’t carry any more than you absolutely need to. Just remember each card you carry is another one you’ll have to cancel if something happens. (And you really shouldn’t be using a bunch of credit cards anyway!)
Just as it is a bad idea to write your password on a post it note stuck to your monitor, it is also a bad idea to keep your passwords written on a sheet of paper in your wallet.
More cash than you want to lose
It is fine to carry some cash with you. In fact I recommend it. You will always spend less when using cash than swiping a credit card. However, you don’t want to carry so much cash with you that it would be damaging to you if you lost it.
Some people throw gift cards in the wallet, “just in case” they might stop in the store where they could use it. Just be aware that after cash, gift cards are thieves’ favorite targets because they can be used and are not traceable.
If you are not currently traveling outside the country, there is no reason to have your passport with you.
Clean out your wallet or purse at the end of each day and remove any receipts that you received that day. While most receipts only have the last 5 digits of your card number printed on them, there is still information that a thief might be able to use to phish for your entire number. Not to mention they can tell what banks or stores you frequent.
While you might be able to quickly put a stop payment on any blank checks that were stolen, it is much safer to leave the check book at home unless you know you will be using it. Even if the thief did not use the checks, they would have your bank routing and account number that they could use to electronically transfer funds from your account.
Keeping a spare house key or car key in your wallet is also not wise. Particularly a house key since the thief probably now has your address from your driver’s license.
An unprotected cellphone
Smartphones can provide a wealth of hacking information for an accomplished thief. You should always have your phone password protected by some mechanism.
Be careful about leaving those special earrings that your grandmother gave you in your purse. If something happens to your purse they might be gone forever.
One thing you should carry in your purse or wallet…
Baby pictures. Interestingly, a study done in Scotland showed that wallets with baby pictures were significantly more likely to be returned than those without. Baby pictures were the most effective according to the study – 88% of wallets with baby photos were returned, compared to 53% for puppy photos, 48% for happy family photos and 28% for photos of an elderly couple. So if you don’t have pictures of your own, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to find a random baby picture to throw in your wallet. Can’t hurt!
Keep an inventory
If your purse or wallet is stolen, you’ll have the unpleasant task of replacing all the things that were contained in it. You can make this task a bit easier by keeping a list of everything you regularly carry with you. A quick easy way to do this is to simply use a copier to take an image of the front and backs of any cards you carry: Driver’s license or id cards, store loyalty cards, insurance cards, bank cards, etc. Your legacy drawer would be a great place to keep these “copies”. If the worst happens and you lose your wallet or purse, you’ll thank yourself for having this list.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go check my wallet…
Have you experienced losing your purse or wallet? What lessons can you share from the experience?
Photo credit: 401(k) 2012 Creative Commons