A stolen identity or wallet means a loss of money and a huge loss of time. Here are the best steps you can take to protect both your wallet and its contents easily.
The burden shouldn’t be on you, but the best way to protect your wallet from being stolen is to keep it out of sight so that thieves aren’t tempted to take what isn’t theirs.
Not every person is a thief, but every person can be tempted to become one. Money Management International published a study stating that two out of every five cases of identity theft are perpetrated by someone the victim knows.
If you leave your wallet laying in plain sight at home, your child might be tempted to take a few dollars or use your credit card to buy that item they’ve been wanting. Your cleaning lady, babysitter, or repair contractor might help themselves to a healthy tip. Even your friend watching the game with you might decide they need a few extra dollars for their next six-pack.
Keep your wallet on you. When you’re sleeping, keep it in your pajamas or in a locked safe that only you know the combination to.
The same rule applies to the work environment. Don’t keep your wallet sitting on your desk when you visit the restroom or leave it unattended at your workstation. Even if you’ve worked with the same people for years or have a very small team, you never know when someone might make a bad decision.
People are particularly susceptible to temptation if they are having financial problems, are dissatisfied with their income, or have a history of drug abuse. If you know someone with these issues, be especially careful to keep your wallet hidden when they are around.
When you keep your wallet on you, the next step is to keep it hidden. A wallet makes a very distinctive bulge in back pockets. The same can be said for the front pocket if you’re wearing skinny jeans. Your goal should be to minimize the wallet bulge and keep your wallet in the most hidden, secure location on your body.
Never keep a wallet in your back pocket. A skilled thief can pluck your wallet out of your back pocket, and you’ll never see it coming. Front pockets and jacket pockets are better. You could even tuck your wallet in a hidden pocket inside your shirt or shorts.
To reduce your bulge, we recommend carrying as little as possible in a bifold money clip wallet or a men's credit card wallet. You can also wear looser fit jeans for front-pocket wallets. Ideally, your wallet should be thin enough and your clothing loose enough that no one will be able to tell where your wallet is. If a thief can’t tell which pocket to reach for, they’ll move on to an easier mark.
Even when you have your wallet in your hand, be careful what you do with it. Don’t pull your wallet out in front of someone else or in a crowd and start counting or separating your bills. Don’t pull cards out and rearrange them. If you do so, you’re simply advertising what you have to anyone who might be watching. When you need to sort, do it privately in your room, office, restroom, or car, first checking that no one is watching you.
Avoid taking your wallet out of your pocket when you pay for something. You can pull a card or enough cash out of your wallet when you’re alone before going into a store. Doing so will ensure you avoid showing the cashier or other customers where your wallet is and how much you have.
You should also avoid paying street vendors or donating to beggars from your wallet. Such people often have others watch and follow those coming up to them. They’ll watch where you put your wallet, happy to accept your money and then even happier to take some more if they see the opportunity. Don’t tempt them to take advantage of you. Don’t show them your wallet or how much you have.
If you don’t want to ready your cash or bills before you go into a store, you could purchase a wallet with zippers or hidden pockets. When you need to open one zipper or pocket to retrieve bills or cards, the rest of your contents stay hidden. No one will see everything in your wallet, so the total package will be less of a temptation.
Waiters and waitresses take your order. They also take your credit card to process payment. Each wait person handles hundreds of credit cards per week, out of view of their owners. That doesn’t sound like a very secure practice to us. What would prevent one of those waiters or waitresses from photocopying or taking a picture of your card?
Instead of risking becoming a victim of identity theft, politely tell the wait staff that you prefer not to let your credit card out of your sight. Whereas you can’t accompany them to the kitchen when they take your order, you can accompany them to the register or kiosk when they take your payment. Standby and make conversation as they run your card. You’ll save them from the temptation of stealing your identity by not giving them the opportunity.
You can also protect yourself when a thief does give in to temptation and tries to snatch your wallet. Here’s how.
A wallet chain clipped or strung through your wallet and belt loop can be broken, but it’ll take some effort. Go long if you like the look of wallet chains and want them to drape down a little or get on short enough to clip onto your nearest belt loop. Pickpockets will see the chain and recognize that stealing your take more effort. And even if someone does try to snatch your wallet, you’ll feel the chain pulling and will have more time to stop them.
If you pull your wallet out to pay for something, change which pocket you put it back into. When you leave the store or walk away from the vendor, change the pocket again. Changing the location of your wallet is like playing the cup game. Change pockets enough and thieves will lose track of which pocket your wallet is in.
People have even suggested making a decoy wallet. You keep your real wallet hidden while being very obvious with an empty wallet. Let it stick out of your pocket or show a prominent bulge. Don’t chain it or check it. Simply let it be for the taking. If someone targets your decoy wallet, they’re not targeting your real one.
If you happen to lose your wallet or someone is successful in stealing it, you can still minimize your losses and the hassle of recovering or replacing its contents.
First, never carry more than you need to. You can read our quick guide on How to Reduce the Contents of Your Wallet. It will tell you how to digitize many of your cards and give you tips on what to leave it out of your wallet.
When you’re carrying less, thieves have less to take advantage of, and you have less you need to replace. Carrying less also makes it easier to use a slim wallet so that you can avoid showing your wallet bulge through your clothes.
Your phone probably has one. You can put them in your dog. Why not stick one in your wallet? You can place a locator chip in one of the pockets or sewn into the lining. When you lose your wallet or suspect it was stolen, use the locator remote to find and retrieve it. The chip will transmit or respond to a signal, depending on the model. Mutbak even makes a wallet with a dedicated pocket for a Tile Slim called the Shadow.
Note that if you think it was stolen, it’s always a good idea to notify the police and allow them to use the locator to recover your wallet. You never know if someone might be armed or how a person will react when confronted.
Do you have a picture of your baby? Can you print a picture of a baby? A recent study found that 88% of lost wallets that had a picture of a baby inside it were returned to the owners. People who don’t mind robbing you are still more likely to take compassion on your children. They might feel that they’re robbing babies of food or shelter if they take your money. Others who find your wallet will put forth more of an effort to find you and return your wallet if they believe they are helping provide for a young child in the process.
So, find the best picture of the cutest baby you can find and use it to your advantage. Put that picture in the most visible pocket and watch your wallet find its way back to you. Just don’t tell the person bringing it back that you don’t really have a baby.
Did you know that people can scan the information on your credit cards and pass cards without touching them? You don’t need to hand it to them. You don’t even need to pull your card out of your wallet or your wallet out of your pocket.
Today’s smart cards operate on radio frequencies. When someone scans your card or when you wave a key card in front of a card reader, radio signals bounce off the card and read the encoded information. If someone has a remote scanner, they can send radio signals into a crowd of people and obtain all the information they need to create a duplicate credit card or make an online purchase. They can also copy the encoding needed to enter your hotel room, office, or apartment that uses key cards.
But you can block your cards from being scanned using three different methods.
We’ll admit that this isn’t the ideal solution, but it will work. If you microwave a credit card for 3 seconds, you will destroy the chip that emits the radio frequencies. You can still use the magnetic strip on the back to make payments or the card number and CVV verification code on the back to make online purchases. Remote scanners, however, will not be able to read your information.
Some wallets come with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) blocking metallic material in the lining of the wallet or pockets. The metallic mesh interferes with the radio frequencies, preventing someone from scanning your cards. In our reviews, we test the RFID protection of every wallet.
You can purchase wallets that provide RFID protection for both credit cards and key cards (like the Flipside 4), credit cards only (like the Mutbak Bunker), or those that provide protection in some pockets but not others. You might want to protect all of your cards for security reasons or leave some pass cards unprotected so that you can use them without taking them out of your wallet. If you are going to leave some accessible to remote scanners, be sure to note which pockets in your wallet are protected and which are not.
You can also purchase RFID blocking sleeves for each card that you want to protect. Instead of lining the pocket or wallet, the RFID material is between the layers of each sleeve. Using sleeves are not ideal as they do add to the thickness of cards in your pockets, making it so that you can’t fit as many cards in your wallet. You also have to remove the cards from their pocket and also the additional sleeve if you want to use them.
You can protect the contents of your wallet and your wallet itself by keeping it from being a temptation. Keep your wallet on you. Keep it out of sight. Don’t let others take your cards for processing without you. Secure your wallet with a chain. Confuse would-be thieves with a decoy wallet or changing where you put your wallet. Find your wallet or encourage others to find you with hidden locator chips and strategically placed pictures of babies. Don’t lose more than you have to by reducing what is actually in your wallet. Finally, by a wallet with RFID protection to block remote scans. Following these simple steps will prevent you from the loss of money and time from being taken advantage of.
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