7 Things You Should Never Carry in Your Wallet

Learn why your Social Security card, checks and extra credit cards do not make the cut.

Every year millions of Americans see their money and personal information fall into the wrong hands, and the consequences can be devastating. In fact, an identity fraud study by Javelin Strategy & Research found that 16.7 million victims of identity fraud lost a total of $16.8 billion in 2017.

Identifying the things to never keep in your wallet is the first line of defense against theft and fraud. And let’s face it—when was the last time you reviewed the items in your wallet and cleaned out those that are not totally necessary? If you’re carrying around sensitive items on the off chance you might need them one day, you could be asking for trouble.

To safeguard your finances while you’re on the go, consider these seven things you should never carry in your wallet:

1. Social Security number
Your Social Security card and any identification or documents that include your Social Security number are perfect examples of what not to keep in your wallet. Those nine digits could make it easier for a fraudster to open loans or credit card accounts in your name.

2. Checks
Checks and deposit slips are on the list of things to never keep in your wallet. These items may have more information on them than you think, including your name, address, bank name, routing number and account number. These details could be used nefariously if obtained by a fraudster.

3. Numerous credit cards
Consider that less could be more when it comes to the number of credit cards you carry. Do you need to carry that department store card with you all the time? No, only when you plan to go to that store. Try having just one credit card and debit card on you at any given time.

4. Multiple gift cards
Think about the number of gift cards that can pile up—especially after the holidays or your birthday—and that you may tote around out of habit. To strike this item off the checklist of things to never keep in your wallet, consider using a gift card app.

5. Password cheat sheets
Scraps of paper with sensitive information such as PINs and passwords are inherently risky, so add them to the list of what not to keep in your wallet. Besides losing your cheat sheet, you then have to worry about thieves hacking into your online accounts if they have your passwords.

6. Excess cash
It may be nice to have cash available at all times, but excess cash can make you an attractive target for thieves. When you take out your wallet to make a purchase and sift through a wad of bills, a crook could be watching. Instead, carry a small amount of money for emergencies or small purchases.

7. Spare keys
Spare house keys could be an invitation to crooks to steal more. While you are searching for your missing wallet or filing a police report, thieves could be targeting your home. Plan to keep your spare keys with a trusted friend or relative to avoid putting your property and family at risk.

Of course there are certain items you might want—and probably need—to carry in your wallet daily for convenience. But if you take into account this list, it could help reduce your odds of identity theft and financial damage if you lose your wallet or have it stolen.