September 22, 2011 - The
Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois (BBB) is advising
consumers to avoid identity theft by taking non-essential items out of their
wallets. Losing your wallet and money is not only a hassle; it can also lead to
serious identity theft issues if you do not take precautionary steps. In 2010,
more than 9.9 million American’s were victims of identity theft, a crime that
costs roughly $5 billion.
“When someone loses a
wallet, not only have they lost the money it contained, but they have also
handed access to their identity over to potential identity thieves,” said Steve
J. Bernas, President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. “Before you leave the house, it’s
important to know what to remove from your wallet to help protect your finances
BBB advises not to carry the following items:
Social Security Card: This is the number one thing to
NOT keep in your wallet, and if stolen will make you most vulnerable to
identity theft. A thief can open credit cards, take out loans or even buy a
car. There is no need to carry this around as an extra form of ID. This should
be left at home in a secure place.
Checkbook: It may seem safe to carry your checkbook;
however these checks contain your bank account number, address and possibly
imprints of your signature. Blank checks can be easily cashed if in the wrong
hands. Just carry a single check if you plan on writing a check that day.
Passport: Not only
is it a time consuming and expensive to obtain a new passport if it is stolen,
it also can carry serious risks of identity theft. If you're traveling
internationally, leave your passport in the hotel safe. Losing your passport in
a foreign country is a terrible hassle.
Too Much Cash: Try to carry only as much cash
as you are willing to lose. You should always have some cash on you in case of
an emergency, but you don't want to feel a huge hit if your wallet is lost or
Too Many Credit
Cards: Carry only the credit cards you
plan on using, or only one of two of your main cards. Keep the backup cards in
a safe place at home.
Protected Phone: If
your smart phone has the option for password protection, use it. Many people
forget that their smart phone may provide access to personal email, bank
accounts, medical records, PayPal accounts and much more.
Receipts: Many of us use our wallet or bag
as a receipt-holder. This can seem harmless, but receipts can sometimes have
credit card information or your signature. Lost receipts make it difficult to
more information on how to avoid identity theft, visit www.bbb.org
As a private,
non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to
promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by
means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising
claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop
and issue reviews on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage
people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.