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What you have in your purse or pocket could make you vulnerable to criminals. Financial expert Mark Lamkin tells us the five things you should never carry in your wallet.
1. Social Security Card - Your nine-digit Social Security number is all a savvy ID thief needs to open new credit card accounts or loans in your name. ID-theft experts say your Social Security card is the absolute worst item to carry around.
Retirees, pull out your Medicare card, too, because it has your SSN on it.
Instead: Photocopy your Medicare card (front and back) and carry it with you instead of your real card. Experts are torn when it comes to blacking out a portion of your Social Security number on the copy, so to be safe, black out all nine digits. If an appointment requires the full SSN, you can then provide it as needed.
2. Blank Checks - Blank checks are an obvious risk-an easy way for thieves to quickly withdraw money from your checking account. But even a lost check you've already filled out can lead to financial loss-perhaps long after you've canceled and forgotten about it. With the routing and account numbers on your check, anybody could electronically transfer funds from your account.
3. Passwords Cheat Sheet - The average American uses at least seven different passwords (and probably should use even more to avoid repeating them on multiple sites/accounts).
However, carrying your ATM card's PIN number and a collection of passwords (especially those for online access to banking and investment accounts) on a scrap of paper in your wallet is a prescription for financial disaster.
Instead: If you have to keep passwords jotted down somewhere, keep them in a locked box in your house. Or consider an encrypted mobile app, such as SplashID ($9.95; Android, Blackberry, iPad, iPhone), Password Safe Pro (free, Android only) or Pocket (free, Android
4. Receipts - Beginning in December 2003, businesses may not print anything containing your credit or debit card's expiration date or more than the last five digits of your credit card number. Still, a crafty ID thief can use the limited credit card info and merchant information on receipts to phish for your remaining numbers.
Instead: Clear those receipts out each night, shredding the ones you don't need. But for receipts you save, keep them safe by going digital. Apps such as Lemon and Shoeboxed create and categorize digital copies of your receipts and business cards
5. Multiple Credit Cards - Although you shouldn't ditch credit cards altogether (those who regularly carry a card tend to have higher credit scores than those who don't), consider a lighter load. After all, the more cards you carry, the more you'll have to cancel if your wallet is lost or stolen. We recommend carrying a single card for unplanned or emergency purchases, plus perhaps an additional rewards card on days when you expect to buy gas or groceries.
Also: Maintain a list, someplace other than your wallet, with all the cancellation numbers for your credit cards. They are typically listed on the back of your cards, but that won't do you much good when your wallet is nowhere to be found.
Spare Keys - A lost wallet containing your home address (likely found on your driver's license or other items) and a spare key is an invitation for burglars to do far more harm than just opening a credit card in your name. Don't put your property and family at risk. (And even if your home isn't robbed after losing a spare key, you'll likely spend $100+ in locksmith fees to change the locks for peace of mind.)
Passport - If you're traveling internationally, of course you can't leave your passport at home, but you can leave it in the hotel safe. When you are abroad, make a photocopy of your passport to have in your wallet for identification along with your driver's license.
Too Much Cash - Bring only as much with you as you're willing to lose. "It's good to have a little cash on you at all times for emergencies, but you don't want to carry so much that you're going to feel a real hit if your wallet gets stolen
Lamkin Wealth Management 5151 Jefferson Blvd., Suite 102 or 901 Lily Creek Drive Ste. 102 office: 502-961-6550 Office toll free: 866-961-6550 www.lamkinwealth.com