You keep a lot of information in your wallet – driver’s license, credit cards, health insurance information, car registration and various other cards or documents. Your wallet is a convenience and a necessity. It is also a treasure trove of private information, and if it is lost or stolen, it can open wide the door to identity theft.Experian, the giant credit reporting bureau, recommends these habits to protect yourself:
- Limit your cards. Carry only what you need on a daily basis. If you have more than one credit card, carry only the one you most commonly use. (You can keep another one in your car in case your primary card is rejected for some reason.) Do not write any PINs or passwords on your card or on other pieces of paper that you keep in your wallet.
- Keep a record. In a personal notebook that you keep at home, write down all of the information from the cards in your wallet. Better yet, put all of your cards on a copy machine and make copies of the front and back. Repeat the process if you change credit cards, get a new insurance card or car registration, or anything else changes.
- Protect your SSN. Do not keep anything in your wallet that discloses your Social Security Number. Keep your Social Security Card in a safe place at home; if you need it for some specific errand, return it to its safe place after you use it.
Travel Tips The “skinny wallet” tips are especially important when you travel, because losing that information can be create huge problems. Some specific tips for travel protection:
- Make a copy of everything in your wallet, and keep that in a hidden place in your luggage or your hotel room. If you are travelling out of the country, make a copy of your passport as well.
- Keep a back-up credit card and AT M card in a separate, safe place.
- Keep your wallet in a pocket with a button or zipper to thwart pick-pockets.
- Consider carrying a “decoy wallet,” a separate wallet with no important cards or information, and only a few small bills, in case of theft or robbery.