I am guiltier than anyone of cramming too much junk in my over-sized purse. My stuff, the kids’ stuff, stuff, stuff, and more stuff. But recently I’ve become aware that my purse has become a traveling target for identity theft.
Think about it. Loyalty cards, coupons, cash, checks, store credit cards, credit cards for gas, credit cards for everyday purchases and a host of identification cards…it’s asking for trouble. And the truth is, I don’t need most of those items on a daily-or even weekly-basis.
Here are the three items you should NEVER carry on your person:
Your Social Security card
There are only a few times when you absolutely need your Social Security card. If you’re starting a new job, opening a new account or applying for some kinds of government benefits, bring the original card. It’s easy enough to stuff the card into your wallet or purse for one of these occasions and then forget about it.
Thieves can use your original Social Security card to apply for all kinds of unsecured debt in your name. And canceling your Social Security number and getting a new one is a complicated, time-consuming process, and you may be liable for the fraud that’s committed before you complete it. Having your Social Security card stolen is one of the worst things that can happen as far as your personal information is concerned. Keep yourself safe, and get the card out of your wallet! Put it in a secure location in your home, like a lockable desk drawer, file cabinet or safety lock box.
This is by far the easiest way to accumulate paper clutter in your purse or wallet. Every single purchase generates a tiny slip of paper. Because you never know which might be needed later, you stick them all into your wallet or purse. Before you know it, you’ve got a novel-sized stack of transactions.
This could be serious trouble if your purse or wallet is ever stolen or lost. While regulations prevent retailers from printing more than the last four digits of your credit card number on a receipt, that could be enough for someone to start building a profile of your purchases, especially when used with the rest of your wallet, like your driver’s license. Thieves can use the last four digits of your card number to fish for more information with a merchant who has the card on file, like a cable company or an online retailer. While they may be caught once you report the card stolen, they’ll have all of the time in between to rack up charges.
Too many credit cards
Every store offers its own card and usually offers incentives to use it, too. Whether it’s a purchase discount or cash back, retailers really prefer to keep their credit card processing in-house. If you shop at a few of these stores, those cards can really add up. Tack on an extra couple of cards for gas purchases, everyday expenses and work-related stuff, and you could easily end up with a wallet or purse chock full of plastic.
If your wallet or purse is stolen, though, each one of those cards has to be canceled individually. Forgetting even one can put you on the hook for hundreds or thousands of dollars of purchases. It’s best to thin your collection down to the one or two you use weekly. Look for those that can be widely used, provide the lowest fees and best acceptance rates. Put the rest of them into a safe place at home, using them only when you need them.
Save yourself the worry, trouble, and neck-ache from lugging around that ginormous purse. When you down-size your bag or wallet, you also down-size the chance of becoming an identity victim.