The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning to consumers: Avoid identity theft by taking non-essential items out of your wallets.
It goes without saying that losing your wallet or having it stolen is a pain in the neck. But it can also lead to identity theft. When you lose your wallet, you’ve not only lost the contents of the wallet, but you’ve also handed an identity thief everything he needs to commit this crime.
In 2010, more than 10 million people became victims of identity theft. But you don’t have to fall victim. A good place to start is to remove the following items from your wallet or purse.
• Social Security card – Never keep this item in your wallet, because it’s the No. 1 item identity thieves are seeking. Keep your card in a secure place.
• Checkbook – While it may seem safe to carry your checkbook, it’s really not. Your checks bear your banking information, name an address. Thieves would love to have that info.
• Passport – Some people actually carry this around on their person on a regular basis; a huge no-no. Leave it in a secure place, like a safe deposit box.
• Cash – Only carry as much money in your wallet as you’re willing to lose if it is stolen.
• Credit cards – Carry only the card you want to use, and keep the rest locked away.
• Unprotected smartphone – If you don’t have a password on your smartphone, you’re just asking for trouble, particularly if you’re one of those people who use their smartphones for personal e-mail, to do banking, or make purchases online.
• Receipts – If you intend to carry around receipts from your purchases, check to be sure they don’t bear your signature, or credit or debit card information.