Personal Finance 

Have You Done a Wallet Audit?

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Wallet AuditOne of the most important things you can do to protect your finances and your identity is to audit your wallet. Do you know what’s in there?

What’s in your wallet makes a big difference — especially if your purse is stolen. The items in your wallet or purse can provide identity thieves with what they need to pretend to be you, as well as possibly run up credit card bills and drain your bank account.

When you know what’s in your wallet, you have the ability to move fast. You can cancel credit cards and freeze bank accounts quickly, and limit the damage.

List What’s In Your Wallet

First, list the items in your wallet. All of them. Empty your purse. List everything you keep in your wallet or purse. Make a note of which items go with what bills. For instance, if you have a credit card in your wallet that is used for automatic billing for your cable, you need to know that. If you need to cancel that card, you need to know exactly which bills are going to be affected.

As you make your list, don’t add too much detail. Your list should only include the phone number for banks (debit cards) and credit cards that are represented in your wallet. Don’t include account number information on your list; you never know if your list will fall into the wrong hands. Don’t forget to list items like your health insurance card, and any membership cards that you have in your wallet. You’ll need to know what needs to be replaced. After all, you don’t want someone else using your gym membership card and blocking you out.

Your wallet or purse list should never be kept in your wallet. You can keep it in a safe place at home, or keep it in your pocket. Just make sure that you have it somewhere safe. If you are traveling, you can even leave the list with someone you trust, and then call later. It’s also possible to email yourself the list, so that you have access to it almost everywhere.

What NOT to Keep in Your Wallet

It’s important to be careful about what you keep in your wallet. The number one thing that you want to leave out of your wallet or purse is your Social Security card. Your Social Security number is just the ticket for identity thieves. Instead, memorize the number, and only take it when you absolutely have to. Check your driver’s license. Most states allow you the option of not including your Social Security number on your license (you can keep it to the last four). Also, be wary of your Medicare card or health insurance card. Find out if you can use a photocopy — black out everything but the final four numbers — instead of the actual thing for most transactions.

Also, consider paring down your wallet or purse when you travel. I take everything out of my wallet before I travel. I take one credit card (one that doesn’t involve automatic bill payments), and my business debit card, along with my identification and my health insurance card, and some cash. However, I normally also keep some of my cash in a pocket, or even in my sock. My purse is usually rather sparse when I travel, since I want minimal damage.

What’s in your wallet?

(Photo: mroach)

{ 6 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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6 Responses to “Have You Done a Wallet Audit?”

  1. I always want two credit cards on vacation just incase something happens with one of them.
    My mom (who works for Social Security) also does clean out her purse before going on vacation. My mother does advise not to have your social security number on your driver’s license. She did allow me to have the number on my first driver’s license so I would know and remember the number. However, in Illinois I don’t think having your social security number on your driver’s license is allowed anymore.

  2. Jabbernow says:

    It is crazy that your Medicare number is basically the same as your SSN. Any senior knows that they must carry their Medicare card in order to ensure acceptance for medical emergencies. When will the U.S. government realize that they are actually enabling identity theft?

    • Stacy L. says:

      Exactly!! Maybe if enough people bug their US Reps about it. Until alot of people make noise, nothing will change. Any thoughts on what org might be well positioned to spearhead a campaign?

  3. I started doing this a few years ago. I used to carry my SSN card in my wallet… a big NO-NO. Whatever you do, never make that dumb mistake.

  4. Jim M says:

    Once a year or so I photocopy everything in my wallet – just in case it is lost or stolen. That way I can know the cards to cancel.

    I keep the list someplace safe.

    I learned my SS# years ago so I never carry it with me.

  5. Master Allan says:

    HAH I am in my 30s and still have my social security card attached to the original full sized sheet. I never followed the instructions “fold here and tear at the perforations”
    the comment written that this is your social security card. Carry it with you at all times in your handbag or wallet. Fast forward 30 years later…year right! The rare times it is removed from the safe usually for a job hire H.R. often comments over the condition.

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