Many of us “keep our lives” in our wallets or purses. It’s true that these items can be helpful in helping us carry various items about. I keep sources of payment in my purse, along with a Moleskin notebook and pen, my cell phone, a few over the counter pills (for headaches and allergies), and a few other items. While your wallet or purse can provide you with the ability to access what you need in almost any circumstance can be helpful, there are some things that you just shouldn’t carry about your person on a regular basis.
Here are 5 things to avoid keeping in your wallet or purse:
1. Social Security Cards
I have to admit that there was a time when I carried my Social Security card around with me. I even carried my son’s card in my purse for a while. Thankfully, my purse was never stolen during this time period. With your Social Security information, nearly anyone could your identity has been stolen.
Don’t carry your Social Security card around with you. Instead, keep it in a safe place in your home. A fireproof/waterproof safe is often a good choice. If your state is one of those that includes a Social Security number on a driver’s license, find out if there is an alternative to that practice. Many states will allow you to opt out if you ask. And you should. You don’t want anything with your Social Security number on it to be so vulnerable.
2. A Bunch of Credit Cards
While you clearly need to take something to pay for purchases, loading up your wallet with too many credit cards is rarely a good idea. If your wallet is stolen, the more you have inside it, the more work you will have to do in order to clear up the problem. Instead, choose one or two credit cards to carry with you at one time, or choose one debit card and one credit card. You will have a back up form of payment, but you won’t be risking all of your accounts at once.
When I travel, though, I usually leave the debit card home. Even with protections on debit cards, the reality is that the money is actually taken from your account. You have to get that money back. I’d prefer not to take that risk when I travel.
3. Spare Keys
Keeping spare keys in your purse or wallet can be a poor decision. Because your driver’s license is probably in your purse, there is a good chance that a thief now has your home address. Now, with the spare key, it’s very easy to just go over to your home and unlock the door — and steal whatever you have. If your spare key has been stolen along with your wallet or purse, you need to do what you can to immediately change your locks. This can be expensive, but it’s better than having everything valuable you own stolen, or finding yourself in a dangerous situation.
The same rule goes for spare car keys. You don’t know who’s watching, and they might know what your car looks like, and come to steal it with your spare key.
4. Account Numbers
We have a lot of account numbers. And, while you might want a list of account numbers and phone numbers for your own reference, you don’t want to carry that list around with you. Instead, keep the list in a safe place (encrypted on your computer, or in your fireproof/waterproof safe). You don’t want a list of your account numbers to be stolen along with the rest of the things in your purse or wallet.
5. Passwords and PINs
A surprising number of people keep their passwords and PINs in their wallets. It makes it easier to get the information you need while you’re on the go. However, carrying this information around on your person is dangerous. Your passwords and PINs, especially if combined with account number information, can allow the unscrupulous easy access to your accounts. If you have this information written down, keep it in a secure place that isn’t as easily accessible as your purse or wallet.
Realize that the any information you keep in your wallet or purse can be used against you. Do your best to limit what is available to the pickpocket, and your finances will be safer altogether.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
I have my spare keys in my purse because I need to carry it with me just in case I need it. Maybe it’s much better not to bring IDs that include my physical address. Also, as much as possible I only have one credit card with me for emergency purposes.