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Personal Finance Safety: What you should never keep in your wallet

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 24, 2013

Anyone who has lost a wallet knows what a hassle it is to replace everything inside it. But beyond the hassle, it's downright dangerous to lose your wallet, or worse, to have it stolen. Your wallet may contain everything necessary for an identity thief to open an account in your name, get a loan, or profit from tax-return fraud. How can you protect yourself? Use smart personal finance sense and never keep the following items in your wallet.

A Spare Key
Some people keep a spare key in their wallets for those times when they're locked out. The problem is that your driver's license, which is also in your wallet, has your address on it, so anyone who gets hold of your wallet could enter your home, putting your family and property at risk. Instead, keep a spare key at a neighbor or relative's house.

Your checks, whether they're blank or already filled out, contain important personal finance information for identity thieves: your full name, address, checking account number, and routing number. The solution to this problem is to only carry checks with you when you absolutely need them, and don't take the whole checkbook.

A passport is gold to an identity thief. With a current passport, a thief can open a bank account and even get a new copy of your Social Security card. To avoid this risk, only carry your passport with you when you're overseas, and even then, keep it locked up at your hotel.

Password Cheat Sheet
Passwords may be the bane of modern society, but that doesn't mean you should carry a password cheat sheet around in your wallet. A thief could quickly empty your account with access to your credit card and your PIN number. To be safe, keep your passwords in an encrypted spreadsheet or an encrypted mobile app designed especially for the task.

Multiple Credit Cards
You probably won't be able to get by without a credit card in your wallet, but there's no need to carry more than one. With only one card, you'll only have to call one credit card company to cancel your card if you lose your wallet.

In addition to keeping the above items out of your wallet, photocopy the fronts and backs of each item in your wallet, so you can quickly report a wallet theft and keep your personal finance information safe.

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