Before you get the wrong idea, we’re talking about cleaning out the extra credit cards and ID that thieves could use. While we’re all thinking about those fabulous bargains, there’s one more thing to consider. Crime peaks during the Holidays. Yes, we’re out there searching for the perfect gift and distracted by all of those items that scream “Buy me!” What a great opportunity for pickpockets and identity thieves to strike.
“Pickpocketing can happen virtually anywhere, and people should be on their guard, especially while shopping this holiday season,” says Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of Experian’s ProtectMyID. “Thieves take advantage of the shopping rush and its inherent distractions to steal wallets and, potentially, identities.”
Kiplinger has provided a great list of things you should leave at home this Holiday season in their article “8 Things Not to Keep in Your Wallet This Holiday Season” by Emily Inverso. To see the entire Kiplinger article, click here. Here’s the condensed list:
A Stack of Receipts. Crafty ID thieves can use the limited credit card and merchant information to phish for you account numbers. Clear out those receipts each night.
Your Social Security Card and anything with the number on it. Your nine-digit Social security number is all an ID thief needs to open new credit card accounts or get loans. Take out you Medicare card as well. It contains your Social security number, too.
Password Cheat Sheet. The average American uses at least 7 different passwords. No wonder we all need a little help remembering them. However, carrying a list of PIN numbers and passwords in your wallet is truly a prescription for disaster. Consider an encrypted mobile app, such as SplashID Basic version is free on all major platforms, Password Safe Pro (free, Android only) or Pocket (free, Android only).
Spare Keys. So, your wallet is stolen and contains your driver’s license with your home address. Storing a spare key in your wallet is like an open invitation for burglars.
Checks. Blank checks are an easy way for thieves to quickly withdraw money from your checking account. With the routing and account numbers on your check, anybody could electronically transfer funds from your account.
Passport. Any government-issued ID opens a world of opportunities for an ID thief. In most cases, they can use the ID to travel in your name, open bank accounts, or even getting a new copy of your Social Security card.
Multiple Credit Cards. Can’t imagine Holiday shopping without your credit card? We’re not suggesting that you go cardless – how about lightening the load? Take a single card or two with you on your shopping trip. And maintain a list of the cancellation numbers for your cards in a safe place.
Birth Certificate. Most of us don’t have our birth certificates folded up in our wallets. However, you could be required to present a host of identification on occasion – like closing a mortgage. There you are with everything a thief could wish for in one envelope. Take the time to secure those papers immediately. Don’t leave them in your car.
And when you’re finished removing your wallet’s biggest information leaks, take a moment to photocopy everything you’ve left inside, front and back. Stash the copies in a secure location at home or in a safe-deposit box. The last thing you want to be wondering as you're reporting a stolen wallet is, “What exactly did I have in there?”
At Dean & Draper we wish you a great Holiday Season. We want to be a resource for you and welcome your questions about insurance or your policies.
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