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8 Things Not to Keep In Your Wallet This Holiday Season

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It's that time of year again. You're doing your holiday shopping in the midst of those distracting sales and crowds. You’re checking your gift lists (twice!) and your budget. You’re juggling bags and boxes. And you're paying little attention to your purse or wallet. These are the moments when identity thieves will strike.

“Pickpocketing can happen virtually anywhere, and people should be on their guard, especially while shopping this holiday season,” says Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of Experian’s ProtectMyID. “Thieves take advantage of the shopping rush and its inherent distractions to steal wallets and, potentially, identities.”

With just your name and Social Security number, identity thieves can open new credit accounts and make costly purchases in your name. If they can get their hands on (and doctor) a government-issued photo ID, they can do even more damage, such as opening new bank accounts. These days, con artists are even profiting from tax-return fraud and health-care fraud, all with stolen IDs.

We talked with consumer-protection advocates to identify the eight things you should purge from your wallet immediately to limit your risk in case your wallet is lost or stolen.

And when you’re finished removing your wallet’s biggest information leaks, take a moment to photocopy everything you’ve left inside, front and back. Stash the copies in a secure location at home or in a safe-deposit box. The last thing you want to be wondering as you're reporting a stolen wallet is, “What exactly did I have in there?”

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