Anyone who steals your wallet -- or even anyone who finds your wallet -- has a gold mine. Your driver's license is in there, your credit card is in there, and if you carry your social security card, they've got that, as well. That's a big deal. The thing of it is, they don't even need to physically take anything out of your wallet to rob you blind. If they write down your credit card info and your address from your driver's license, they can clean you out shopping online. And with your social security number, there's not much a person can't do by way of opening bank accounts and new lines of credit. You could get your wallet back later, with everything in it, and still be hung out to dry.
One instance of a lost wallet turning into full-on identity theft is the case of Margot Somerville, who lost her wallet on a San Francisco trolley in 2006. That kicked off an ordeal that lasted for a full five years, costing her $20,000 in fraudulent charges, another $60,000 trying to prove her innocence, and held the constant fear of prison in the back of her mind during her last years with her husband. All that because a woman was depositing fraudulent checks in Somerville's name, all the way over in California.
If you do lose your wallet, you need to go into lockdown mode, even if you do get it back. Have all of your credit cards reissued, notify credit bureaus of potential fraud, call the social security office and the IRS, and generally follow the stolen identity recovery handbook in full, because you're about as compromised as you can be.
Did you know...
- When it comes to counterfeiters, North Korea are pros. They have gotten so good at counterfeiting American currency (particularly the $50 and $100 bills) they their fakes are known as "superdollars." They require specialized Federal Reserve equipment to be identified. There are $45 million worth of North Korean fakes…that we know of.
- The most expensive hotel room in the world (the Royal Penthouse Suite at the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva, Switzerland) costs $83,200 a night. That's $58 per minute for a stay! Good thing it has 12 bedrooms, 12 baths, a wraparound terrace, a Steinway piano, and an assigned private staff (including a chef)!
- Do you know what the lifespan of U.S. currency is? The higher the denomination, the longer it stays in circulation. Both $50 and $100 bills last 9 years. The $20 sticks around for 4 years. $10 bills circulate for 3 years. The $5 bill has a 2-year lifespan, and the $1 bill only lasts around 18 months before being retired. Coins last around 30 years.
- Once you've handled all your money, you should probably wash your hands. Money is some of the dirtiest things that we own. In fact, it's been found to be dirtier than a household toilet! During flu season, the virus can live on a bill for up to 17 days. That's just plain disgusting!
- There are over 1.6 million automated teller machines around the world. And that really does mean the entire world. There are even two ATMs on Antarctica at McMurdo Station operated by Wells Fargo. Friday is the most popular day that ATMs are used worldwide, and the average withdrawal is around $80.