GOOD READS

Wallet 101: What to Keep and What to Take Out

Wallets can be pesky business. The last thing you want to have is a George Costanza moment--your wallet so stuffed to the brim with receipts that one big gust of wind will send its contents flying through the streets.

A poorly managed wallet is also a huge security risk. You might be carrying contents around that someone could use to easily steal your identity, if your wallet were to end up in the wrong hands. Identity theft was the No. 1 consumer complaint last year for the 12th year in a row, proving more bothersome to consumers than debt collectors, imposter scams, and shady credit-repair companies, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

To protect yourself, make sure what you're carrying around in your wallet doesn't pose a security risk. U.S. News spoke to Denisa Tova, a certified financial planner based in Denver, and Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments based in Chicago, about what's OK to keep in your wallet and what you should remove. Here's what they said:

Credit cards. Ideally, says Hobson, consumers should own just one credit card. "The whole idea that you need more than one credit card is a fallacy," she says. "Cancelling your second credit card will hurt your credit score in the short term, but in the long term, it's better for you." If you have more than one, Tova recommends locking the rest in a safe. "If your wallet gets stolen, ask to have your credit card account numbers changed," she advises.

Also, cut up expired credit cards. "An identity thief can still use them to steal your identity," Hobson says. "That's something people think is just harmless and it's not."

Sensitive information. Never store your PIN or your passwords in your wallet. "Surprisingly, a lot of people actually keep their debit card's PIN in their wallet right next to their debit card," Hobson says. "That's just setting yourself up for disaster."

Cash. Keep as much as you're comfortable losing, Hobson says. Tova advises keeping no more than $50. "Use cash for small purchases such as a pack of gum, especially if your bank charges debit card fees," she says. She says it's also good to have some cash on hand for emergencies.

Receipts. Receipts for the week are fine, Hobson says, "but there's nothing worse than seeing a wallet stuffed with receipts from the last year." Just be careful you're not keeping receipts with too much personal information on them. Check to make sure you're not carrying around receipts that list your entire credit card number.

Bad forms of identification. Never carry your Social Security card or your passport in your wallet, Hobson says. If your wallet gets stolen with either inside, identity theft is likely to follow suit. "If you're traveling outside of the country, Xerox your passport and put the real one back in the hotel safe," Hobson says.

Old hotel room keys. In the past, the barcode stored your credit card information. "Some hotels have been changing that, but it's something where it's not 100 percent," Hobson says. So either turn the key in when you're checking out, or cut it up.

Credit card offers. Tova says these should be shredded if you don't plan to use them. The same goes for credit card checks, which are checks used to borrow against your line of credit for quick cash. "It would be a bad thing if they ended up in the wrong hands," she says.

Medicare card. Seniors often carry their Medicare card, which lists their Social Security number. Tova's suggestion: Make a photocopy of the card, white out your Social Security number, and only carry the copy.

If your wallet gets stolen, Tova says you should file a police report immediately, then contact all three credit-reporting agencies, your credit card companies, and your bank.



More From US News & World Report

Quiz: How well do you know India's economy?

Question 1

Which of these products is India the world's largest producer of?

Poll Choice Options
  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Milk
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Latest News

  • GM to battle VW in China with $12 bln investment and new plants

    U.S. car giant General Motors Corp (GM) (GM.N) plans to invest $12 billion in China from 2014 to 2017 and build more plants next year as it competes with aggressive rivals in the world's largest auto market. GM expects its China sales to expand 8-10 percent this year, in line with the overall growth of the Chinese market, where foreign firms, such as Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), and domestic players like SAIC Motor Corp vie for more market share. In total we are investing $12 billion between …

  • Mercedes, BMW chase ultra rich clients with new high end cars

    Premium auto maker BMW (BMWG.DE) unveiled a luxury concept sedan in Beijing on Sunday, to gauge customer appetite for a car that would cost more than German manufacturer's current flagship 7 series limousine. Ian Robertson, BMW Group's board member responsible for sales and marketing said the car is being presented the Auto China show in Beijing as a way to test customer opinion in the world's largest car market. Around half of tall the 7-series flagship models made by BMW end up being sold …

  • Reliance rubber unit sets up customer support in Vadodara

    Mumbai, April 20 (IANS) Relflex Elastomers, the synthetic rubber business unit of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Sunday inaugurated a customer support centre at its petrochemicals complex ... …

  • GM to invest $12 bln in China and plans more plants

    U.S. car giant General Motors Corp (GM) (GM.N) plans to invest $12 billion in China from 2014 to 2017 and build more plants next year as it steps up its presence to compete with aggressive rivals in the world's largest auto market. GM expects its China sales to expand 8-10 percent this year, in line with the overall growth of the Chinese market, where foreign firms, such as Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), and domestic players like SAIC Motor Corp vie for more market share. In total we are …

  • In the driving seat: China's yuppies are new market force for global a …

    SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Global automakers are scrambling to meet the demands of China's young urban professionals, who want a car that makes them stand out, yet don't always have the money to splurge on a top-end model. After nearly two decades of frenzied growth driven mainly by the very wealthy, China's auto market is maturing, yet remains ferociously competitive with manufacturers having to react quickly to shifting consumer trends. People like Zhou Wenxi, a 32-year-old Shanghai …

IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS & INTERVIEWS

  • This might well be India’s biggest Ponzi scam

    It was just too good to be true. Ashok Khital, 45, displays every symptom of a man who knows he's been conned. …

  • India's star studded football league

    High and mighty including Sachin, Salman & Sun Group buy ISL teams …

  • Leaderspeak with Rajesh Janey

    Rajesh Janey, President - India & SAARC, EMC shares many firsts in his life. …

  • Seed of Doubt

    Field trials have been allowed again in India. But two decades after their global launch, genetically modified (GM) crops remain controversial. …

  • Power Hungry

    Gujarat has power round-the-clock. Most other states do not. Why this will matter in the general elections. …

  • Etcetera

    The most keenly watched contest of the current general election will be the one for the Varanasi parliamentary seat, where the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi squares off ... …

  • Economy vs Democracy

    As the country gets election fever, cash comes out of mattresses and turns into liquor, gifts, and food. But it is not bad for the health of the economy, reports Sarika Malhotra from the trenches. …

MARKET MOVERS

  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    16.52+0.88+5.63%
    UNITECH.BO
    73.85+3.05+4.31%
    HDIL.BO
    13.36+0.25+1.91%
    SUZLON.BO
    718.55-6.70-0.92%
    HDFCBANKSL.BO
    57.40+2.75+5.03%
    JAIPRA.BO
  • Price % Gainers
    Price % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    12.60+2.10+20.00%
    AGRIMONY.BO
    242.50+40.40+19.99%
    ACRYSIL.BO
    83.50+13.90+19.97%
    SICAL.BO
    46.00+7.65+19.95%
    SHRGLTR.BO
    65.25+10.85+19.94%
    AHLUCONT.BO
  • Price % Losers
    Price % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    11.60-2.70-18.88%
    ANISHAIMPEX.BO
    51.10-8.85-14.76%
    WINSOMTX.BO
    11.70-1.30-10.00%
    BLCISER.BO
    425.00-40.00-8.60%
    GCMSECU.BO
    59.40-5.55-8.55%
    JBML.BO
  •  
    Recent Quotes
    Symbol Price Change % ChgChart 
    Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
    You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
  • Recent Quotes News

    •  
      Sign-in to view quotes in your portfolios.