My brother-in-law had his wallet stolen over the weekend. In the interest of learning from the misfortunes of others, here are some things to think about.

  1. Never, never, never carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
  2. Photocopy your wallet about once a year. Lay the contents out on a copier (front and back) so you have a record of all the cards and contact numbers.
  3. Only carry the cards that you use on a regular basis. Leave the rest in a safe place at home. If you have bills set up to auto-pay by credit card, use a card that you leave home. Otherwise, you’ll have to change all those accounts when the card is cancelled.
  4. When your wallet is lost or stolen, immediately call the financial institutions and start canceling the cards that were lost.
  5. Call the three credit reporting agencies and put a fraud alert on your account. Consider putting a credit freeze on your account. (A fraud alert is free but must be renewed in 90 days. A credit freeze will typically cost $10 and requires extra effort to have lifted when you want to apply for credit legitimately but it provides somewhat better protection.)
  6. If you haven’t reviewed your credit report lately, do it now. Follow the instructions at

Police advise men to keep the wallet in their front trouser pocket, not a jacket pocket and definitely not a rear pocket. Police advise women to keep their purse with them and to carry it on their strong-hand side (if you’re right-handed, carry it on your right shoulder).

If you’re traveling, keep your identity document (passport or drivers license) separate from your wallet. Carry a photocopy of the first two pages of your passport in a third pocket whenever traveling abroad.

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