7 Things You Should Never Carry in Your Wallet

by Jessica Sommerfield · 13 comments

The holiday shopping season is almost here again, and identity thieves are on the lookout for careless customers who either misplace vulnerable personal information or leave it unattended in a cart.

More than any time of year, this season is a prime time for stolen credit cards and swiped bank information. Why? Because your numbers and sensitive information is being used more than normal.

While you shouldn’t obsess about circumstances you can’t control, most of us have lost a card or an entire wallet at some point in our lives, there are ways you can avoid becoming a victim even if someone attempts to steal your financial information. The most important way you can do this is to be very careful about what information you carry around on a daily basis.

If you looked in your wallet or purse right now, would you find any of these things?

1. Receipts

Carrying around extra receipts is something I am guilty of myself. Before realizing it, I often have a wad of receipts in my wallet, but don’t want to throw them away because I either haven’t entered them in my budgeting app yet, or they contain items I may want to return.

While most businesses don’t list full credit card numbers on receipts, even the last four digits can provide enough for skilled hackers to figure out the rest. It’s recommended that you empty receipts out of your wallet on a daily basis.

To limit access to nay receipts, consider using a mobile or online electronic receipt app. Otherwise, shred them as soon as you don’t need the information. Also, never throw the receipts away in a public trashcan, as thieves can too easily rummage through and get your info.

2. Excess Credit Cards

Carrying around one form of payment is often necessary to do business, but when possible, don’t carry all of your credit or debit cards with you. The more cards you’re carrying, the greater chance one or more of them will be lost or stolen.

Also, in the event your wallet is stolen, you won’t have to cancel your entire list of cards – just the one you were carrying at the time. It’s a good idea to keep a list of cancellation phone numbers at home in case of theft, so you can have them cancelled as soon as possible with minimal harm done.

3. Checkbooks

Checkbooks are also a no-no. Even though we use checks less and less in our everyday life, it’s easy to fall into the mentality that you might need it someplace that doesn’t take plastic and you’re not carrying cash.

Blank checks are just asking for financial and identity theft. If you must carry a check, only carry the number of checks you need with you and hold onto them tightly.

4. Social Security Cards

You might not be carrying a wad of credit cards, a checkbook, or even any cash (you’ve already spent it all, right?), but there are other personal documents that make it extremely easy for thieves to access your Social Security number and other financial information.

For this reason, you should never carry your Social Security card in your wallet. If you need it for insurance or benefits purposes, you can always have it photocopied and scanned directly to an office. Otherwise, you don’t need it with you on a daily basis.

5. Birth Certificates

Not many of us carry around our personal birth certificate everyday, but lots of parents will carry around their children’s birth certificates in case they need it for medical information or school records. This makes it all too easy for the vital information to get stolen, and then you’ll have a huge mess to sort through on your child’s behalf.

Like with the Social Security card, you can always take a picture, copy, or scan the document directly to any office that might need it. In fact, there are several online services that allow you to safely store important information like this that can easily be accessed digitally when you need to give someone a copy.

6. Passports

For some world travelers, a passport is used as their means of an ID card or driver’s license, so carrying one around is unavoidable. However, you should limit yourself to only having a passport on you when it’s absolutely necessary. Otherwise, leave it at home or in a bank’s safety deposit box for safety.

A passport is one of the most comprehensive kinds of identity and one that can take weeks if not months to obtain, so you want to make sure a thief doesn’t get their hands on it.

7. Insurance Cards

Although it’s unlikely, check your insurance cards to make sure they don’t have your Social Security number on them and keep them at home until you really need them.

Knowing your group number, in case of an emergency, should be enough until you’re able to retrieve your insurance card directly. Any other form of identity, other than your driver’s license, should be kept at home unless absolutely necessary.

Keeping these items out of your wallet all year round will make it easier to follow safe practices while you’re doing your holiday shopping. So before heading out into the crowds, do a quick inventory of what’s in your wallet or purse and leave these important financial documents at home.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Sam says:

    Social Insurance Number. This just a reminder to younger Canadians…when the SIN was introduced by the Pearson government, Diefenbaker objected with vigor and refused to accept a number …to sell the idea to the public, Pearson publicly assured the Canadian people the SIN would only be used for the Canada Pension Plan. Something has seriously gone wrong since the late sixties. At one time, I was buying fire insurance for my house, and the broker wanted my SIN. I asked him how much he was planning to deposit to my CPP and I informed him of the above history. Interestingly, he could insure my house w/o my SIN.

  • Andy says:

    I am with you on the first 6 items, but I think I disagree on number 7. Insurance cards haven’t had your social security number on them for years. It is also a good idea to have your health insurance information because you never when an emergency will strike.

  • Procius says:

    I really don’t see how some people find their way home these days. I will be 76 years old in 2 months and have NEVER lost my wallet, NEVER lost my keys, NEVER locked my keys in my vehicle, and for damn sure NEVER left one of my children in the car to die in the heat. Where in the hell are people’s brains these days. They are so wrapped up in their own ‘little world’ that they have no idea of what is going on around them. People today are completely unbelievable, they all claim to be so smart, yet have absolutely no common sense.

    • David says:

      I would like to add one other item from another 70+ year older man. If you or someone in your family are in a vehicle accident, give only to the police officer, any information he needs. I have always asked the officer to only pass on my information to someone required by law and to give the other person involved in, the accident the same kind of respect I am being given by the officer in withholding my information.

      I have always been treated with respect by the officer at the accident. I have had my hand shaken by the other person involved and I have always felt good when I got home.

      Good luck to all.

  • Carolyn Zaremba says:

    I always carry everything related to my health insurance, hospital, doctor, health conditions and medications in case of an emergency where I might be unconscious and emergency staff would have to know this information to avoid giving me anything that would react negatively to the many medications I take. At my age this information is vital to have on hand. But never, EVER carry a Social Security card or anything with that number!! I didn’t know that anybody still did that. You should have your S.S. number memorized if you have to give it to some official. Always shred your receipts, too. I even shred mailing labels and envelopes I receive in the mail so that even my name address don’t end up in the recycling, where anybody can get hold of it.

  • Suzanne says:

    People who have need of government services — specifically, low-income people — and people who use Medicare do not have the luxury of not carrying these documents with them. They are needed at every step of the process, and most of these government offices do not have the technology to receive a ‘scan,’ even if the person had the ability to send one. And Medicare cards have the social security number right on them!

  • Kayla says:

    I carry too many of these things. I have some receipts usually and I used to carry a ton of credit cards. I still carry my checkbook and I have my SS card. I also usually have at least one bill in my wallet too…

  • Carol Smith says:

    While I agree one should not carry a social security card in your wallet, It is impossible NOT to have it with you, however, if you are on Medicare and the ID for getting coverage IS your SSN number in the US (plus some letter appended to it…).

  • Emily says:

    1,2,5,7 are all in my wallet. Wow, thanks for the heads up!

  • Mrs. Frugal says:

    I’m guilty of carrying excess credit cards–I just keep them all together in my wallet. Never occurred to me to separate them. Thanks for the tip!

  • Melanie says:

    I finally realized a few months ago that I didn’t need all my credit cards in my wallet — even so, what if your wallet gets stolen? You’d want access to something to tide you over!

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