PDF: Whats in your wallet
For years, ads for a popular credit card company have asked, “What’s in your wallet?” While that question is used to sell consumers on the company’s credit cards, it also points to something we all should think about from time to time: Our wallets often contain vital pieces of information about us that could be used to steal our identities, raid our bank accounts, or compromise our personal safety.
The history of the wallet goes back to antiquity. In ancient times, men and women would carry small pouches containing some of the essentials of everyday life. In 1991, two German tourists hiking in the Alps between Austria and Italy stumbled upon the frozen remains of the “Iceman” (who was later nicknamed Otzi). The mummy, dating from about 5,300 years ago, was found remarkably well-preserved and has helped us understand a lot about life during his time. Otzi was carrying a small leather pouch containing knives, flint and food. This type of pouch evolved into the wallets we carry around with us every day.
According to wallet company Pad & Quill, the first modern (“flat”) wallets were first seen in the 1600s, but they were worn on the belt, as a conspicuous sign of wealth. As people began to carry paper money, identification cards and then credit cards, wallets began to get thicker. Today, most people’s wallets contain a mixture of cash, photos, credit and debit cards, driver’s licenses, ID cards and a variety of other essentials.
The invention of “digital wallet” technology and apps have shrunk the average wallet, but many experts believe we’re still carrying too much around with us. Pickpockets can be found everywhere, and losing your wallet can expose you and your family to a lot of danger. With all the danger, and alternatives provided by technology, perhaps it’s time to rethink our wallets.
The editors of Kiplinger’s, in a recent article, urged consumers to consider eliminating eight things from their wallets. Instead of carrying everything, they advise, make a copy or image of all the items, front and back, and keep the originals and copies in a secure place.
Password cheat sheet. Most people have more than two dozen passwords they need on a regular basis (some have many more). The tendency is to reuse a password, select something easy to remember or write them all down on a “cheat sheet” they carry with them. But all those are risky. Instead, use a password app, or jot them down and keep them in a locked safe in your home.
Spare keys. While it’s tempting to keep a spare house key in your wallet, a thief who steals your wallet already has your address from other documents in the wallet, so giving him a key is a bonus. Instead, keep a spare key with a trusted family member or neighbor in case you need it.
Blank checks. Many people keep a blank check in their wallet for convenience. Checks contain both the account number and routing number, and it would be easy for a thief to forge your signature and possibly could use your driver’s license as ID if they stole or found your wallet.
Other items suggested for removal by Kiplinger’s include passports, multiple credit cards, birth certificates and receipts. To read all their advice, visit http://bit.ly/2liA1ED.