Nobody ever really expects to lose their wallet or have it stolen, but alas, it does happen. Misplacing a wallet or purse can be very frustrating, but the last thing you want is to lose things that can make the situation much worse. You may not think twice about having the following things on you all the time, but in order to protect your identity and finances the best you can, you should usually leave the following at home and in a safe place:
Social Security card
Unless you’re going somewhere that requires you to bring your Social Security card (like the start of a new job), you should never have it on you. Usually, whenever you need to provide your Social Security information, you’ll just need to know the number. Actually needing the card itself is often unnecessary, so you won’t need to carry it around with you in your wallet. Losing your Social Security can be a huge hassle, at the very least. But if the information falls in the wrong hands, then you might have to worry about identity theft issues. For this reason, you’ll also want to avoid writing down your Social Security information and keeping it in your wallet. Instead, memorize the number so that if you ever need to provide it, you won’t need to refer to anything.
Too much cash
Once you lose cash, it’s gone forever, and losing a wallet that’s filled with cash can be a devastating financial loss. Avoid keeping too much cash on you at once, and instead, keep it somewhere safe, like your bank account. Unless you’re on your way to make a purchase that requires a large amount of cash, or you just made a withdrawal from your bank account, carrying cash in large quantities should be avoided. Instead, try to use other means of payments whenever possible, such as check, debit card, or credit card. Only carry a small amount of cash in case of emergencies, or for vendors that only accept cash.
Carrying your checkbook in your purse or pocket—or always keeping blank checks inside of your wallet—can be asking for trouble. Avoid keeping checks on you at all, and only take what you need and when you know you’ll need one. If someone gets a hold of one of your blank checks, they could potentially forge your signature and withdraw money from your bank account.
It’s one thing if you’re traveling internationally and you have your passport on you—in fact, with the right type of passport holder, keeping it on you is sometimes the safest option when you’re traveling. But if you’re in the habit of just keeping your passport on you at all times, even when you’re out and about in your hometown, you’ll want to avoid doing this. Unless you’re going somewhere where you absolutely need to bring your passport, this is one piece of identification you’ll want to keep safe. Losing your passport can be a nightmare, especially if it falls into the wrong hands. Not only will you need to worry about who has your passport and what they might do with the information, but you’ll have to go through the hassles of getting a replacement.
Receipts for credit card purchases
Hanging onto receipts for your purchases—especially expensive ones—can be good for a few reasons, especially if you need to return the item. But this doesn’t mean you should stash them in your wallet, either. Instead, keep them in a folder or in a box, and somewhere safe in your home. If your wallet or purse is cluttered with receipts, it won’t only a make a mess, but can pose a risk to your finances if you’re carrying receipts with your credit card information on them. Although most vendors only display the last four-digits of credit cards on purchase receipts, a significant amount of damage can still possibly be done if that information falls into the wrong hands. And you don’t even necessarily have to lose your purse or wallet for this to happen—you can easily drop a receipt without even noticing, and if you’re going through for your bag or wallet for something else. Avoiding losing receipts that include this information by leaving them at home and not carrying them around with you.
All of your credit cards
If you have several different credit cards, there is no need to carry them all with you at all times. You have to consider all of the different accounts you’d have to notify and put a fraud alert on if you lost your wallet, and every single credit card you have is in there. Losing all of your credit cards at once also means needing to cancel all of them and receive replacements, and it also means a greater risk of fraudulent activity if you didn’t notify your credit card issuers soon enough. By only losing one or two of your credit cards, the financial impact isn’t as significant and it won’t be as stressful. Plus, you’ll have other credit cards you can use in the meantime and while you wait for your replacement cards to arrive.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial, tax, or legal advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.