Elder financial abuse is running rampant, and identity theft is part of the problem. You may assume that the vast majority of identity theft cases involve hackers and online scams. In fact, a lost or stolen wallet or purse is at the core of around half of the cases that have a known cause.
If you take the right steps, you can foil identity thieves who may walk away with your wallet or purse.
Don’t Carry Sensitive Information
There is no reason to carry around sensitive information that an identity thief could use. For example, it is very likely that you know your Social Security number by heart. There is no reason to carry your Social Security card around with you in your purse or wallet.
Committing other types of information to memory can help prevent identity theft. Some people jot down important information like Internet account passwords and bank account PINs. Don’t keep written records in your wallet. Memorize these numbers instead.
There are those who carry checkbooks around with them. In the era of the ATM card, this is really not necessary. Keep your checkbook at home and out of your purse, and don’t keep blank checks in your wallet.
These are some specific suggestions. In general, inventory the things that you are carrying in your wallet or purse. Are you carrying anything that would be of value to an identity thief? If the answer is yes, stop carrying it around with you. It’s as simple as that.
Make copies of the things that you are carrying in your wallet and store them in a secure place. These would include your driver’s license, your credit cards, insurance cards, etc. If you take this step you will know exactly what has fallen into the wrong hands if you lose possession of your wallet or purse.
Notify Appropriate Parties
As soon as you recognize that you are no longer in possession of your wallet or purse, notify all interested parties. This can include credit card companies, banks, the DMV, and insurance providers.
File a police report so that the authorities are aware of the fact that your wallet or purse is out there.
You should also contact the three major credit reporting agencies and request a security freeze on your files.
This Can Happen To You
Common sense can go a long way toward limiting the damage that can be done if your wallet or purse is lost or stolen. This is not something that only happens to other people. It could happen to you, and you should make sure that you take all the right steps to protect yourself.