Although identity thieves are becoming more sophisticated, the typical contents of a purse or wallet still hold plenty of useful personal information for them.
Although there's no way to guarantee that your purse or wallet will never be stolen, there are ways to lessen the impact of the theft by avoiding carrying around more than you have to.
Below are a few important items that you should never carry with you.
1. Social security card. This personal information is like the "holy grail" for identity thieves. Far too many people carry it in their wallet, behind their driver's license. The best place to store this card is in a safety deposit box or in a safe in your home. Think about the last time you actually needed your social security card. Probably the last time you were hired for a new job, right? Otherwise, there is no reason to carry this card in your wallet.
2. Passport or birth certificate. As long as you have your state-issued ID, such as a driver's license, there's no reason to be carrying additional forms of identification. Not only can this aid identity thieves, but if your purse is stolen, you'll have a very difficult time getting a new ID without any form of personal identification.
3. Checkbook. With debit cards and online banking, very few people write checks for routine purchases. Your checkbook contains your name, address, bank account numbers, and bank name. If a thief got ahold of one of your checks, they could clear out your bank account in no time.
4. Extra credit cards. Even if you have several credit accounts open, carry the minimum number of cards in your wallet. The more credit cards you're carrying, the more debt thieves are able to rack up in your name. Plus, you'd have the headache of trying to cancel all of these cards if they are stolen.
5. Excessive cash. This one is almost a no-brainer. Avoid carrying significant amounts of cash at any one time. If you must, keep smaller amounts in different pockets to avoid a catastrophic loss. Use a debit or credit card for large purchases instead of withdrawing large amounts of cash. If the cash is stolen, you will have absolutely no recourse.
6. Photos of your kids. You may find this item surprising, but it can actually be quite dangerous to carry family members' school photos in your wallet, especially if you're in the habit of listing their names and ages on the back. With the information in your wallet, a thief could easily gain access to your kids at school.
7. Passwords. Do you keep a list of your pass codes in your purse or wallet? If ever stolen, this list will be a dream come true for the thief. Do not write down your ATM code, your login information to any website, or your social security number.
Identity theft is among the fastest growing crimes in America. While there are ways to reduce your chance of becoming a victim, such as carrying pepper spray or a stun gun, it's also important to minimize the impact if your purse or wallet were to be stolen.