This June I experienced a traveler’s worst nightmare: I lost my wallet.
I was visiting New York from California and I had just attended the Lambda Literary Foundation awards ceremony. I was in the New York subway when I realized I didn’t have my wallet. Of course my first concern was how to get back to the house where I was staying, so all I could think about was how to scrounge up enough money to ride the subway.
Then I realized I had far bigger problems. My wallet included enough information for someone steal my entire identity:
• A metro card
• A driver’s license
• a credit card
• an ATM card
• a blank check (which included my bank account number)
• my Medicare card (which included my Social Security number)
• a medical cafeteria debit card
• a business card
• other medical insurance cards
So with what someone found in my wallet they could literally set up bank accounts, transfer money out of my current account, or steal my entire identity. In fact, as Forbes reported earlier this year, “according to the U.S. Department of Justice, 20% of people who have had their identity stolen believed the information came from a wayward wallet or checkbook.”