Last year over eight million Americans were victims of identity theft. It seems as though our wallets are recepticles for any small thing that'll fit. We literally carry our lives in our wallets; many of those things are important to the smooth functioning of our lives, and those are the kind that are financial in nature.

So, if you don't want to fall prey to an identity theif, take a look at your wallet.

Credit Card: Discard All But One 

First of all, the more credit cards you carry, the more tempted you'll be to use them. But even more important, if a thief were to get hold of your wallet, they'd have that much more opportunity to charge things in your name. Only if you're close to the limit on the card you use most often should you take a back-up card.

Research shows that most people will however, spend 20% less if they pay with cash as opposed to plastic. Also think about that small charge, like the $4.00 latte you put on your card; if you only pay the minimum, that $4.00 latte will cost you a whole lot more. Whatever you think is best for you...

 Cash: Keep It to a Minimum

While cash may help you spend less, it still can be dangerous. For those of you who have a problem with cash burning a hole in your pocket, cash can be deadly even without the theif. When you have a lot of dollar bills, you feel like you've got enough to cover whatever you like on a whim. Lesson: The less cash you keep the less you'll be tempted to spend.

And while having your cash stolen won't cause you to lose your identity, all that extra cash will be gone for good if you lose your wallet.

Receipts: They're Old Anyway

Perhaps because they thicken your wallet you feel richer with them. You should take your receipts out every evening (and preferably input them into your budget so you know if you getting close to your limit on your spending). Keep your receipts in a folder so you can reconcile them to your credit card statement when it comes; credit card companies have been known to make mistakes. Also, those receipts may contain information that would make an idetity theif salivate.

Social Security Card: You Only Need It Once

I really cannot imagine why anyone would carry this in their wallet. Are you afraid HR is going to want to verify your number after you've been working at your job for 17 months? Doubtful. Lock it up in a fireproof safe in your home. If someone steals this, they literally become YOU. They can open up all kinds of credit accounts in your name.

Expired Credit, Loyalty, and Membership Cards

Expired cards are just dead weight in your wallet. Cut them up and ditch them; especially expired membership cards. A theif could go to the business that issued you the card and get another one in your name. Some cards may even have your address on them, so the theif could come to your house and rob you. Included in this category are the plastic hotel keycards. If someone gets hold of one of these, they can go to the hotel gift shop and make charges, which would be billed to the credit card you had on file at the hotel.

What's in your wallet that you can get rid of to make the load lighter (physically and mentally)?

CategoriesCredit & Debt