Identity theft, as most people know, is the fastest growing crime in the United States, and why not? There are many ways to commit it, so it will appeal not only to someone with high tech abilities as well as someone with relatively average computer skills. While the more tech savvy may use a phishing scam, others may prefer dumpster diving or stealing someone’s mail or wallet. Since there are so many ways to get one’s identity stolen, consumers need to protect their information on all fronts, and perhaps the place many of us are most vulnerable is follows us around everywhere we go, our wallets. In fact, the items we carry in our wallets daily may provide an identity thief with everything he needs.
Social Security Cards
Do you carry your Social Security card with you in your wallet? After all, you are occasionally asked for it as a form of identification? This is last thing you want to carry in your wallet because if it is stolen, you may very well be handing your identity over on a plate. Only carry it with you if you know for a fact you are going to need it. You know your Social Security number if you need to provide it, and if you don’t, memorize it. Keep your Social Security card in a safe place, like a locked box or a safe.
Of course, most people carry credit cards for daily purchases when we are short on cash, but how many do you need to carry everyday? You will be less likely to notice if one you don’t use often goes missing from your wallet. Pull out credit cards you are least likely to use and put them in a safe place at home only to be used when you know you’ll need them. If you have any you never use or rarely use, you may even want to consider canceling it. An unused account, once discovered, is a gold mine for an identity thief.
Health Care Card
Obviously, this is one thing many of us would consider to be important to carry in case of emergency illness or injury and understandably so. However, is your Social Security number displayed on the card? Many insurance companies are switching over to the use of different account and identification numbers for their customers. If your insurance company has not made this change, you may want to contact them and ask them to issue a different number. If they are unwilling to do so, you may want to photocopy your card and black out all but the last four digits of your Social Security number and carry that instead. If you need emergency care, your name and the last four digits of your Social Security number are all they should need to look up your insurance information.
Employee or Student ID Cards
Employee and student identification cards are not a problem in and of themselves. Many schools and probably all universities require student IDs in order to register for classes or to use student only facilities, and many companies require employs to carry identification for the company’s security. However, the problem is when employers and schools print the owner’s Social Security number on the card which becomes a security risk for the employee or student. Many schools and companies that did this have already switched over to provide new ID numbers for the identification cards, instead of the Social Security number. If your school or company has a your Social Security number printed on your ID card, you may want to suggest that they give you a different identification number and may even suggest switching over to a system that does not use Social Security numbers on ID cards at all. It may be an expensive effort, but it will be safer for everyone.
These are a few ways you can make it more difficult for an identity thief to steal your identity from your wallet. Your Social Security number is the main component needed to open credit cards in your name or take out loans and other services. You can make this all the more difficult by removing any document with your Social Security number from your wallet completely.