Your wallet is an essential item that you carry with you on a daily basis. However, did you know that there are certain things that you should never keep in your wallet?
Losing your wallet can be a major inconvenience, and replacing important identification and financial cards can take up a significant amount of time and money. In fact, a recent survey found that 62% of participants admitted to losing their wallets through theft or misadventure, with almost half of them spending an entire day trying to cancel financial cards and replace identification.
Your wallet is one of the top six items that people lose, and on average, you can expect to spend two and a half days per year searching for lost items. This can add up to a significant expense in both time and money, costing the nation an estimated $2.7 billion.
By following some simple suggestions, you can avoid most of these unnecessary and avoidable situations.
Social Security Card
Your Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a unique identifier that criminals can misuse for various purposes, including credit card applications, false employment, and tax fraud.
If someone gains access to your SIN, it can lead to severe consequences, such as ruined credit and a time-consuming process of reporting theft to different government organizations.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a policy regarding losing or stealing your Social Security card. However, the agency cannot reissue a new card until there is sufficient proof that your identity has been stolen for nefarious purposes. This delay can negatively affect your credit score and lead to other financial issues.
To avoid the headache of losing your Social Security card, it is best not to carry it in your wallet. Instead, keep it in a safe place at home with your other important documents. Memorizing your SIN is also a good idea.
Tech companies offer digital wallets with features such as password protection, encryption, and biometric authentication to keep your Social Insurance info safe. Google Wallet, for example, offers two-step verification, encryption, and the ability to erase the info in your digital wallet remotely. Pairing it with monitoring services like Aura can track your activity, even on the Dark Web, and alert you of any suspicious activity.
Protecting your Social Security card safeguards your identity and financial well-being.
PIN and Password Information
Protecting your online security is important, and one of the most crucial steps is creating strong and unique PINs and passwords.
Unfortunately, many people resort to weak or easily guessable passwords, which can lead to security breaches. To combat this, consider using tools like multi-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security.
This involves pairing a single password with fingerprints or facial recognition or texting a verification code to your phone.
Another option is to use a password manager like LastPass, which can store unlimited secure passwords in an encrypted password vault. This eliminates the need to write down or memorize multiple passwords, and allows you to access them easily and securely.
It’s important to avoid writing down your passwords or carrying them with you, as this can leave you vulnerable to theft. According to the Pew Research Center, almost half of Americans choose to write down their passwords, which is a major security risk.
If you have trouble remembering your passwords, consider using a password manager or multi-factor authentication to keep your information secure.
Additionally, be cautious when using public Wi-Fi networks, as these can be easily compromised by hackers. It’s best to avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive activities like online banking or shopping, and only to use trusted networks.
By taking these steps, you can ensure that your PINs and passwords are secure and protect your online identity.
Your birth certificate is a vital document that proves your identity and citizenship, but it is also a prime target for identity thieves.
According to a 2020 report by the Department of Health and Human Services on “Birth Certificate Fraud,” birth certificates are frequently used in identity fraud, with 85% to 90% of fraud cases involving genuine birth certificates. With 14,000 different versions of birth certificates in circulation, it can be challenging to detect stolen certificates.
If your birth certificate falls into the wrong hands, it can be used to access a range of sensitive information, including your passport, driver’s license, social security card, bank account, and public assistance.
Therefore, it is crucial to keep your birth certificate safe and secure. Instead of carrying your birth certificate with you, consider storing it in a safe place at home. With digital wallets, you can also carry your birth certificate safely encrypted on your phone, eliminating the need for a physical wallet.
By taking these precautions, you can protect yourself from identity theft and ensure that your birth certificate remains a valuable tool for proving your identity and citizenship.
Multiple Credit Cards
Carrying multiple credit cards in your wallet can increase your risk of credit card fraud. In 2021, there were 389,000 reported cases of credit card fraud in the US, resulting in $32 billion in losses.
One of the most common forms of credit card fraud is the opening of new credit card accounts or the use of stolen credit cards, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Credit card encryption is a security measure that jumbles up personal information stored in your credit card’s magnetic stripe and chip. However, the magnetic stripe on your card can still be vulnerable to skimming machines, which can lift your information for fraud.
To combat this, virtual credit card numbers have been introduced. These numbers only exist in the digital realm and can create 16 random numbers associated with your physical card, which protects your real card information from fraud.
Virtual credit card numbers can be used across platforms with any merchant that allows for online payments. Many credit card companies, including Citi, Wells Fargo, Visa, Mastercard, and Amex, already offer virtual cards.
By using virtual credit card numbers, you can reduce the number of physical cards you carry in your wallet, minimizing the risk of credit card fraud.
Gift cards are a popular gift option for birthdays and holidays, but it’s important to be cautious when using them.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that in the first nine months of 2021, 40,000 Americans lost a total of $148 million in stolen gift cards. By the end of 2022, those numbers had increased to 48,000 people and $228 million in stolen cards.
Thieves often target gift cards because they provide an easy way to make anonymous and untraceable cash transactions. Unlike a lost credit card or check, there’s no way to freeze access to the money on the card.
However, if you purchase a gift card with a credit card with fraud protection, you may be eligible for liability through the credit card company. Keep in mind that gift cards are usually not eligible for liability protection.
Be cautious when purchasing gift cards from a store’s display rack. Thieves can steal your gift card number and security code information, seal it in a gift card package, and leave it on a store rack to be picked up by someone else. The next person who picks up and loads funds on the card will have those funds instantly drained by the thieves.
To avoid this, leaving gift cards at home until you’re ready to use them is best.
To protect your gift cards, consider keeping them secure at home until you’re ready to use them. If you do need to carry them with you, keep them in a separate wallet or compartment to reduce the risk of loss or theft.
Work ID Access Cards
Work ID access cards are a common sight in modern workplaces. They offer an extra layer of security through technologies like RFID chips that allow access to controlled areas, entry logs that record who gained access where and when, and photo identification for visual deterrence.
However, the technology behind these cards is 25 years old, and fraudsters have figured out how to clone them. This means that if a “Key Me” kiosk or a card cloning reader is sold at a local hardware store or pharmacy, your ID access card can become a security breach in seconds.
On average, a company with 40,000 employees will lose 10,378 key cards per year. This can lead to significant security risks and financial losses, as theft costs businesses $50 billion annually, with 57% of thefts based on the actions of employees and outsiders.
One way to mitigate this risk is to use Apple Wallet’s employee badge feature, which allows users to access their workplace by waving their phone over card readers. It also stores ID card photos for visual access.
Another way is to only bring your card to and from work. Leave the card at home, not in your wallet on days off.
Losing your Medicare card can be a hassle and put you at risk for identity fraud. It typically takes 30 days to receive a new card, which can lead to inaccurate medical records, denied health coverage, unexpected medical bills, and a damaged credit score.
Thieves can use your stolen Medicare card to access prescription filling, medical equipment, treatment, and submit false insurance claims under your name.
To prevent this, it is recommended to avoid carrying your physical Medicare card with you and instead store it in a secure location at home.
You can also use the Samsung Wallet app to store your Medicare card information securely. The app is similar to Apple Wallet and provides a safer alternative to carrying your Medicare card in your wallet.
Checkbooks or Checks
Losing your checkbook or a check can result in duplicates of your checks, which could quickly lead to a drained bank account. Since checks contain your personal information, such as your name, address, and checking account info, losing them can be disastrous to your financial security.
In 2018, $1.3 billion in losses could still be attributed to fraudulent transactions despite the use of watermarks and gradient backgrounds, which were 90% successful in reducing check fraud.
If you lose a check or your checkbook, you do have options. Immediately contact your financial institution to alert them of the loss before thieves have the chance to commit fraud. Your bank will likely freeze your checking account to prevent further fraud.
However, losing a check or checkbook brings a lot of hassle and headache. You will have to go through the trouble of getting them all replaced, not to mention the inability to pay any bills that regularly come out of your account, which could lead to declined or bounced transactions.
To avoid all the hassle and headache, only carry checks that you plan to deposit on the same day, preferably on a direct trip. Knowing how to void a check properly can provide a basic level of fraud protection, but carrying around a blank check in your wallet and losing it through carelessness or theft is not likely to help you.
When making purchases, whether in-person or online, you may be issued a receipt. It’s important to keep in mind that these receipts may contain sensitive information, such as your credit or debit card number and expiration date.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has established rules to protect consumers from fraud when it comes to electronically printed receipts. Merchants are required to reveal less than six digits of your card number on the receipt, with no expiry date included. However, these rules do not cover handwritten or imprinted receipts, nor do they cover transaction records kept at the time of purchase.
To protect yourself from potential fraud, it’s recommended that you check your receipts for any sensitive information before leaving the store or disposing of them.
Make sure that no more than five digits of your card number are included, and that there is no expiration date listed. If you do find sensitive information on your receipt, you can report it to the FTC. Merchants who violate these rules can be fined anywhere from $100 to $1,000.
A well-known case of a merchant violating these rules is Subway, which was hit with a $30 million class action lawsuit when 2.6 million customers discovered that their card expiry dates were being printed on their receipts.
If you do find sensitive information on your receipt, be sure to destroy it to prevent any potential fraud.
Passport or Passport Cards
If you don’t have a driver’s license, your passport can be used as a form of ID, but it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with carrying it around.
Passports use RFID technology to store personal information that can be skimmed by fraudsters with RFID readers from up to 10 feet away.
To protect yourself from identity theft, carrying your passport or passport card in a specially designed travel wallet that blocks RFID scanners is recommended. Additionally, carrying two wallets can throw off pickpockets.
However, digital wallets offer a more secure and convenient alternative. Apple allows you to store a digital version of your identification, including your state ID, on your iPhone or Apple Watch.
This digital ID can be used at TSA checkpoints by using touch or facial recognition software to gain access. With digital wallets, you can avoid the risk of losing your hard-to-replace passport or passport card.
Carrying spare keys in your wallet can be a security risk. If you lose your wallet, you could be giving away your home address and car information, along with the keys to both.
It’s important to audit the keys you carry and consider trusted friends and family as a backup option.
Replacing a lost key can cost anywhere from $50 to $145 for a car key and up to $200 for changing locks on your home.
Packed keyrings can be unwieldy, inefficient to sort through, and can even scratch your pants, legs, wallets, and hands. To avoid this, consider using a key organizer that carries your keys neatly in a Swiss Army style for easy carriage and use.
Technology offers solutions too. For example, iOS 14 or better allows you to unlock your vehicle and home, while securing your wallet all at the same time.
By combining the power of Apple CarKey, Apple Wallet, and Apple Home, you can use your phone or Apple Watch to open doors and avoid the likelihood of losing wallets or keys. It’s also important to purchase compatible locks for your digital system.
By being mindful of the keys you carry and considering technology solutions, you can reduce the risk of losing your keys and the cost of replacing them.