Have you ever lost your wallet? It happened to me once and I hope it’s the only time I’ll ever go through that experience. I panicked knowing that my license, money, gift cards, store loyalty cards and school ID were all floating around somewhere for anyone to take. By some stroke of luck it was returned to me a few days later with all of the contents intact. I thank my lucky stars that the person was kind enough to find me online and arrange to give it back to me, but this certainly isn’t how it always works out.
I’d like to think all people would take the same path and try to return a wallet they found in a restaurant to its rightful owner. Unfortunately, some choose to keep the lost wallet and its contents for themselves. This opens up the opportunity for identify theft and other dangers, not to mention losing whatever money or valuable items you had in the wallet. Protect yourself by never keeping these things inside your wallet.
Social Security Card
You should guard your social security card with the highest level of security possible. Keep it in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box, not your wallet. You rarely need your social security card anyways, so why keep it where it can easily be misplaced? If you lose your wallet and your social security card is inside, you’re at risk for identify theft. A thief with your SSN can do some massive damage by getting credit cards in your name or accessing your checking accounts. Whatever you do, keep your social security card out of your billfold and store it some place safe. The same goes for your passport and birth certificate. For more tips on protecting against identify theft, check out the Living Young & Free Field Guide.
Keeping a spare key in your wallet opens the door for thieves, literally. Think about it: Your license is in your wallet along with a spare key to your house or apartment. Your license has your address on it. It’s a scary thought, but a thief could potentially find your home using the address on your license and let him or herself into your place with the spare key. Don't take the risk. If you’re worried about forgetting your key and locking yourself out of your place, find a highly secretive location to hide the spare, or give it to a neighbor you know and trust.
Flash Drive or Memory Card
I keep files that I access frequently on a flash drive, just incase I find myself somewhere without my computer or Internet access to download the files from online storage. I try not to save any sensitive or confidential information to these portable storage devices, but you never know what a skilled thief could do with the information on your flash drive. To be safe, don’t keep these in your wallet.
Unless you plan to use the gift cards while you’re out, keep them in a safe place at home. There’s no sense in filling up your wallet with plastic that you won’t be using. If you lose your wallet, you can’t get those cards back. Unlike credit cards or debit cards that can be locked or cancelled as soon as you realize they’re missing, gift cards are rarely replaceable unless you have the original purchase receipt and card number. Don’t risk it. Keep your gift cards at home.
For other items you shouldn’t keep in your wallet, check out this article on Yahoo! Finance. Your previous spokester, Seth Poplaski, pointed it out to me. Thanks, Seth!