Police line. — File photo.
Those concerned about identity theft should be wary about what they carry on their person, including what is help within their purse or wallet. The headline advice is to only carry an amount of cash in your wallet that you are comfortable losing.
This is because carrying an abundance of items in your wallet may unknowingly expose you to a higher risk of identity theft. Little things tucked away in your wallet can serve as valuable clues for potential thieves, making it easier for them to identify you and gain access to your accounts and sensitive information.
Delving into the risks associated with an overloaded wallet, James Knight, the education editor at Invezz.com, has explained to Digital Journal what the potential hazards of different items are.
Beginning with cash, Knight pitches: “Sounds weird, right? But it’s wise to carry only an amount of cash in your wallet that you’d be okay with losing. Additionally, it’s beneficial to budget your expenses. James suggests that paying in cash can act as a deterrent to overspending, as the emotional impact of parting with physical bills tends to be more significant than when using digital methods like your phone or a credit card.”
Password Cheat Sheet
Try to avoid carrying passwords about your person. Knight warns: “We’ve all got more passwords and PINs than brain cells, but stashing a cheat sheet in your wallet isn’t the solution. Especially if those passwords are linked to bank or retail accounts where your credit card details are hanging out. If you really must jot down your passwords, stash them in a safe spot at home or consider using a secure mobile app.”
Work ID Card
Carrying your work ID in your wallet poses potential security risks, observes Knight. He explains this is because “its loss could grant unauthorised access to your workplace. The ID may contain sensitive information, exposing you to identity theft and compromising your personal security.”
Extra Credit and Debit Cards
To avoid losing everything, Knight recommends: “Bring the ones you use often and leave the rest behind. This not only limits a thief’s card choices but also makes your life simpler when dealing with cancelled cards or sorting out sketchy charges.”
Carrying a USB drive with sensitive information in your wallet is a security risk.
Knight advises: “Clear out those receipts regularly. While businesses can’t spill the entire credit card number on them, the last five digits, along with merchant info, can be enough for a crafty thief. Receipts might even have your signature. Make it a habit to clear them out weekly, cross-checking against your bank statement or saving them until month-end. And hey, consider going digital with a receipt-tracking app.”
Passport and Birth Certificate
Knight warns that such documents are “like gold for thieves, opening doors to all sorts of mischief. If you need your birth certificate, keep it safe and separate. As for your passport, unless you’re jetting off to some faraway land, your driver’s licence or other ID should do the trick.”
If you identity is recognisable then keeping a housekey with other documents opens up your home to theft.
Knight concludes: “If your wallet is overflowing with personal and financial details, be aware that much of this information can be exploited by identity thieves. Safeguarding against such risks involves minimising the amount of sensitive information you carry.”
Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal’s Editor-at-Large for science news.
Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.