5 Things Consumer Protection Experts Say You Shouldn’t Keep In Your Wallet
You reach for your wallet and don’t feel it. What you do feel is panic. Is it lost? Stolen? On a sidewalk somewhere where it can easily be picked up by a stranger?
Think about all of the stuff you cram into your wallet on a daily basis. Money and credit/debit cards aside, there are usually identification cards, personal information, and financial information, all ripe for the picking if someone picks up your wallet.
Consumer protection experts have identified some of the things you should purge from your wallet ASAP.
1. Pass the word: Don’t keep a password cheat sheet in your wallet
Passwords have a way of proliferating; we need them for everything from credit card accounts to ATMs to online bill paying. According to the Pew Research Center, 73% of people use a cheat sheet so that they can keep all of their passwords in one, easily accessible place. That place shouldn’t be your wallet. Explore a digital password manager like LastPass, which offers a free basic service.
2. Not keeping a spare key in your wallet is, well, key
Looky here: Your lost wallet has a spare house key in it along with an ID that shows your home address. Real-world thieves consider that an invitation to break into your home. Even if your home isn’t broken into, you’ll probably spend over $100 to have a locksmith change the locks at your home for your own peace of mind.
3. Multiple credit cards are like catnip for thieves (or cat burglars)
The more cards you carry in your wallet, the more potential for an unscrupulous person who finds your wallet to use them. And once your wallet goes missing, you’ll need to call the credit card company for each and every card and cancel them, which can be a time-consuming task if you were carrying a large collection of cards. It’s a good idea to carry just one rewards card for everyday purchases and a backup card for unplanned purchases or emergencies.
4. Rethink the number of receipts
Businesses aren’t allowed to print on paper receipts more than the last five digits of your credit number, but ID-theft experts say skilled thieves could use those five digits and merchant information on receipts to phish for the remaining numbers on your credit card. It’s best to remove receipts from your wallet on a daily basis and shred them or store them in your home. The Shoeboxed app lets you create and categorize digital copies of your receipts with plans starting at $29 per month.
5. Gift cards: The gift that keeps on giving to thieves
So you haven’t used the gift card Aunt Mae gave you for your birthday last year, and it’s still taking up space in your wallet. If your wallet is lost or stolen, so, too, is the gift card. Retailers don’t as for ID when honoring gift cards because your name isn’t on the card (the fact that it says “To Susie from Aunt Mae” on the back doesn’t count). Anyone who rifles through your wallet can grab the cards and redeem them, easy-peasy.
In addition to paring down what you carry in your wallet, consider photocopying the front and back of whatever cards and documents you decide to keep in your wallet. Then if your wallet is lost or stolen, you’ll have a record of these items, which you can submit to appropriate financial institutions or government agencies.