Protect Your Identity - Don't Carry These Items With You

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Taking every step possible to keep your personal information safe will help you lower your risk of identify theft. Here are some items you should not regularly carry with you.

Social Security Card

It should come as no surprise that your social security card is at the top of the list. With your social security number, an identify thief can open new credit cards or take out loans in your name. States no longer will print social security numbers on newly issued driver’s licenses. If you have an older ID with your social security number printed on it, request a new card.

Password Cheat Sheet

How many different passwords have you had to setup for your various online accounts? How do you remember them? You should get into the habit of creating new, secure passwords every few months, especially on the accounts that carry any personal data, such as email, online banking, and social networking sites. Keep track of your passwords with a password management service such as Last Pass. That way you don’t have to remember your passwords and you bypass the risk associated with carrying written passwords with you.

Spare Key

While keeping a spare key in your wallet may come in handy in the event of a lockout, this practice makes you vulnerable to break-ins if your wallet is ever stolen or misplaced, since your home address is likely printed on your ID. Always be careful with where you stash your spare key, and who you loan your spare keys out to.

Paper Checks

While paying with checks used to be more common, you should only carry them now when you absolutely need them. Blank checks in your wallet would make it easy for a thief to attempt to withdraw money from your account, or use your account number and routing number to transfer funds electronically. Leave your checkbook in a safe and secure place at home, and only carry checks you intend to use immediately.

Passport or Passport Card

A lost passport isn’t just a pain in the neck. It makes you vulnerable to identify theft. If your passport gets into the wrong hands, a thief can travel under your name, open a bank account, or order a new copy of your social security card. Do not carry your passport unless you are traveling internationally, and even then, be extra careful of how and where you carry it.

Multiple Credit Cards

It may be handy to keep a credit card or two on your person in the event you need to use one, but you should avoid carrying multiple credit cards with you regularly. Keep a list of all your cards, and the contact numbers in the event that you lose your wallet and need to reorder. With less credit cards in your wallet, there will be less hassle for you if your wallet is lost or stolen.

Medicare Card

If your Medicare card was issued before April 2015, it has your Social Security number on it. Since 2015, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards, but it will take until April 2019 before Social Security numbers are removed from all cards. Make a copy of your Medicare card to carry with you, and remove your social security number.

Portions of this content was provided by Kiplinger for use by Angel McCall.