For some people, the saying “everything but the kitchen sink” applies so well when it comes to their purse. And, while it may be tempting to carry your whole life around on your arm, there really are some things you just shouldn’t keep in your purse. Keep reading to find out what those things are.
Carrying a passport in your purse can put you at risk of identity theft. Even when you’re traveling abroad, you shouldn’t keep it in your purse. You should carry a photocopy of your passport and leave the real one in the hotel safe instead. Losing your passport in a foreign country is no fun at all. In fact, it’s one big headache as you’ll have to take several trips to the embassy, not to mention all the stress you’ll be under from worrying about your identity possibly being stolen.
DID YOU KNOW?
Passports are hard to forge, therefore a real one will be accepted more easily than other stolen documents, Eva Velasquez, CEO and president of Identity Theft Resource Center, told Reader’s Digest.
11. Social Security Card
If you don’t know your social security number off the top of your head, you need to memorize it ASAP. Otherwise, you put yourself at risk of identity theft. In fact, “your social security number is the critical piece of information a thief needs to carry out identity theft,” Velasquez told Reader’s Digest. As a matter of fact, aside from your driver’s license, you should avoid carrying anything with your social security number on it. This includes your Medicare card, too. Instead of carrying the real thing with you, One Reverse Mortgage suggests making a copy of your Medicare card and blacking out your social security number. That way you won’t have to worry about thieves having your social security number if your card gets lost or stolen.
TIP: Don’t carry your kids’ social security cards in your purse either. They’re even more at risk of identity theft because most parents don’t think to check their child’s credit report.
10. Birth Certificate
Did you know that birth certificates are not considered a key piece when it comes to identity theft? They can, however, be useful in obtaining other personal information. That’s why One Reverse Mortgage says you shouldn’t carry them in your purse. This includes your children’s birth certificates as well. The only time you should carry one with you is when you need it for traveling. Other than that, “the only identifying document you should regularly carry with you is a driver’s license or state identification card,” BUSINESS INSIDER said on its website.
9. Cell Phone
Long gone are the days when payphones were on just about every street corner and in every public space (schools, hospitals, airports, hotels, etc.) you could think of. The majority of them were eventually replaced when cell phones became popular and affordable. As a result, just about everyone carries a cell phone nowadays. But, police warn against carrying them in your purse in case your purse gets stolen and you need to call for help. After all, your chances of finding a payphone nearby are slim to none.
TIP: If you insist on carrying your phone in your purse, make sure it’s protected. “A lot of Americans think of their smartphone as a phone instead of a mobile computer that happens to make calls,” John Sileo, CEO of cybersecurity group Sileo Group, told Reader’s Digest. And, leaving your phone unprotected makes it easy for thieves to access your personal information. But, before you jump on the four-digit-password bandwagon, you should know that those passwords are easy to crack. To really protect your phone you’ll need to use a longer code or log in using fingerprint, face, or voice recognition, Sileo added.
8. Debit Cards, Checkbooks, Gift Cards, Store Credit Cards, Membership/Loyalty Cards, and Large Amounts of Cash
Cash, debit cards, checkbooks, gift cards, store credit cards and membership/loyalty cards don’t have the same protections as credit cards, thereby putting you at higher risk if those items happen to get lost or stolen. With debit cards, the cash leaves your account and you have to prove it was indeed a fraudulent purchase before you can get your money back. With credit cards, however, you can stop the charges and the money never leaves your account.
When it comes to check fraud, it can take anywhere from a day to four months to get your money back. Plus, your checkbook contains your bank account number, address, phone number, and possibly imprints of your signature. This makes it extremely easy for thieves to take over your account and fabricate checks and other documents in your name.
When it comes to store credit cards and membership/loyalty cards, you should only carry them when you plan to go to that store. It can be nearly impossible to get the balance back on your store cards if they’re lost or stolen. And, thieves can easily access your rewards points if they get hold of your membership/loyalty cards.
7. Old Receipts
It’s okay to keep old receipts. In fact, it’s recommended that in some cases — e.g. when keeping track of major home improvements — you keep your old receipts indefinitely. When it comes to debit and credit cards, it’s best to keep them until you’ve checked them against your monthly statement. Then, you can toss them in the shredder. But, just because you should keep them doesn’t mean you should keep them on you. That’s because your receipts give thieves “a great picture of who you are and where you shop,” Velasquez told Reader’s Digest. And, if they pair those receipts with other documents, it becomes that much easier for them to pretend to be you.
TIP: Clean out your wallet or purse at the end of each day and store your receipts in a safe place at home until you no longer need them. Don’t forget to shred them before throwing them away.
Back in the day, many people would write their bank account passwords or pin numbers on a sheet of paper and carry it around with them in their wallets. In fact, there are people who still do this today. “Some people feel passwords are safer in their bag than at home because it’s always on them, but nothing could be further from the truth,” Velasquez told Reader’s Digest. “You’re much more apt to lose your purse or wallet than have a break-in.”
But, it’s not just your bank account passwords you should keep safe. You need to protect ALL of your passwords — email, phone, computer, etc. Your best bet is to memorize all your login information. If, however, that doesn’t work for you, store your passwords at home in a locked box or in a passcode-protected smartphone app.
Ladies, we know you like to be able to freshen up your makeup throughout the day, and so you carry it around with you in your purse. And, that’s fine IF you plan on carrying your makeup in a cosmetics bag or case. If not, prepare for a big mess. That’s because your makeup could spill. It could also leak when it begins to melt in warm temperatures.
Here’s another thing to keep in mind: Don’t carry around full-size bottles of beauty products. We totally understand that you may need to reapply your hairspray throughout the day — and that’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you carry travel sizes instead. This way the contents of your purse won’t weigh down your back.
4. Perishable Snacks
Here’s another item you’ll want to avoid carrying in your purse as things can get quite messy when it comes to perishable goods. This is true even when it comes to packaged foods like candy bars, which can quickly turn into a disaster waiting to happen when the chocolate on them starts to melt. That being said, when you need to carry some snacks with you, opt for things like nuts or trail mix. And, make sure you store your snacks in clear bags or containers.
Carrying your keys — including any spare keys — in your purse is a terrible idea. If your purse gets lost or stolen, someone will not only know your address, they’ll be able to let themselves in your house. And, even if they don’t get into your house, you’ll need to have your locks changed, and that costs money — a few hundred dollars to be exact. Plus, they could end up stealing your car keys, too, which can prevent you from driving.
TIP: Put your keys on a lanyard instead and wear it around your neck. Or, you could just carry your keys in your hand. They can make an excellent weapon if you’re ever attacked.
2. Important Medications
One of the worst things in the world is to need your inhaler, insulin or other important medication during a medical emergency and not be able to take it. That can certainly happen to you if you carry important medication in your purse and someone snatches it off your shoulder or you happen to lose your purse somewhere. Not only that but you may have to file a police report and then take it to the pharmacy in order to get a replacement prescription filled. Be warned, however. Prescription abusers can make it hard for you to get a replacement prescription as many of them have been known to file false reports. “If somebody mentions pills [in a robbery or burglary] we get nervous,” a Gainesville, FL, police detective once told the Gainesville Sun. “A lot of the false reports are being made so they can go back to the doctor to get another script.”
1. Anything Heavy
As we mentioned earlier, full-size bottles of beauty products are too heavy to be lugging around in your purse. So are books, umbrellas, food, beverages, and extra clothes. Carrying around these heavy items can lead to back, neck and shoulder pain over time. Unfortunately, “many patients don’t realize that their heavy handbags are contributing to their problems,” Heidi Prather, an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, told Real Simple.
Which of these items do you currently have in your purse? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!