Risks for identity theft – 10 Things You Should Not Keep in Your Wallet

10 Things You Should Not Keep in Your Wallet

What you keep in your wallet will determine how at risk you are for identity theft in the chance you lose it. Here are 10 items experts suggest keeping at home.

We all make sure we’ve got our keys, wallet and phone before we head out the door, but more often than not, we are carrying around things that are better left at home. Some items we carry on a daily basis can be virtually impossible to replace, and others may leave us at risk for identity theft in the event of loss. We checked in with the personal finance experts at LearnVest to find the top 10 things you shouldn’t carry in your purse or wallet.

Social Security Card

“You may carry it around thinking you need a back-up source of ID, but these days you don’t really need it,” says Maria Lin, editor in chief at Learnvest. If your Social Security card gets in the wrong hands, someone could open a credit card, apply for a loan, or even buy a car with the information. It’s nine digits, just memorize it.

Your Passport

If you’re traveling internationally, of course you can’t leave your passport at home, but you can leave it in the hotel safe. When you are abroad, make a photocopy of your passport to have in your wallet for identification along with your driver’s license. “If you lose your passport or get mugged in a foreign country, it’s such a horrible hassle,” says Lin. “You have to go to the embassy, and it’s a vacation nightmare.” If you’re traveling in the U.S., use your driver’s license instead. “Your passport is such a primo document for your identity, if someone gets a hold of it, you can really put yourself at risk for identity theft,” says Lin.

Passwords/Pass codes

Although most PIN numbers are only four digits long, some people still write them down so they don’t forget. “If you store any type of ATM password or even a code for your home alarm in your wallet, you have basically gifted a thief with access to your life,” says Lin. If you absolutely can’t remember important pass codes, store them digitally on a password-protected phone, but never write them down and leave them in your wallet or purse.


A Non-Password Protected Phone

Today, many people have smart phones that allow them instant access to bank accounts, PayPal accounts, medical records, and more. Even if your phone only accesses e-mail, a thief could easily search for banking or ATM passwords or addresses, according to Lin. “Think about all the things you have digitally stored on your phone. You have to have it behind password protection. This way a thief can still erase your phone’s memory and use it for themselves, but they won’t have access to your data.”

Your Checkbook

“As innocuous as it seems, your checkbook has your bank account number and routing number on it, your address, and possibly imprints of your signature,” says Lin. Lin says that if you know you’re going to need to write a check one day, peel off one check out of your book and take it with you. If you know you’re going to need to write multiple checks in one day, go ahead and take your checkbook, but don’t get into the habit of carrying it around with you all the time, Lin says. “You want to prevent someone’s ability to just start writing out your blank checks and cashing them.”

Too Many Credit Cards

“A lot of people put all their cards in their wallet and carry them with them at all times,” says Lin. “But if your wallet gets lost or stolen, that means you’re going to have to sit and cancel every single one, and wait a week without any credit cards before you receive a replacement.” Only carry the one or two cards you use on a daily basis and a backup, and leave others at home. Also make sure you keep photocopies of the front and back of each card at home, Lin advises. The 1-800 number to call and report a lost or stolen card is very often on the back of your card — which doesn’t do you a lot of good once the card is no longer in your possession.

Too Much Cash

Lin offers the following rule of thumb when it comes to carrying cash: Bring only as much with you as you’re willing to lose. “It’s good to have a little cash on you at all times for emergencies, but you don’t want to carry so much that you’re going to feel a real hit if your wallet gets stolen.” For people on a “cash diet,” Lin recommends bringing only as much cash to cover the day’s expenses.

Gift Cards/Certificates

“A lot of people carry these around thinking, ‘I never know when I’m going to be passing this store,’ but chances are, you’re going to forget about it anyway, and if your wallet gets stolen, it’s one of the first thing thieves are going to use,” Lin says. Gift cards and gift certificates are just like cash — they don’t require ID for use. “Try to leave it at home and take it with you only when you are consciously going to shop at that store,” Lin says. “Make it a special excursion; it’s a treat to have free money to spend.”

Jewelry or USB Devices

“It may sound silly, but if you’re changing earrings or heading from a business meeting, it’s very possible you may forget and toss these things in the zipper compartment of your wallet,” says Lin. USB devices can be bad news in the hands of thieves if they contain confidential files. “It would be horrible to get your wallet stolen any day, but if you’re also losing your grandmother’s earrings or a presentation you’ve been working on for months, it’s even worse!”


Sometimes receipts can have your credit card information on them, as well as your signature, which thieves could do a lot of damage with. Additionally, if you’ve just purchased a big-ticket item like a new computer or jewelry, you may need that receipt for warranty purposes. “If you’re planning to use your receipts for expense purposes at work, those few hundred dollars of business receipts can just vanish and your employer might not be so understanding,” says Lin. “Get in the habit of taking out your receipts every night instead of carting them around with you.”


Online scams to avoid – Boston.com


Online scams to avoid
By Alli Knothe, Boston.com Staff

These days it seems no computer is safe. Countless people have fallen into scammers’ traps, and it’s easier than ever to be deceived now that everything is online.

So, the Better Business Bureau — which collects consumer complaints — compiled this top 10 list of scams that consumers faced in 2010. Here’s what to look for, as well as how you can keep your money and identity safe.

Fresh produce can have bacteria, yeast, mold, and assorted germ carriers

This will make you shudder: Studies conducted at Tennessee State University found that the vegetable bin is the dirtiest part of the refrigerator. And no wonder: Fresh from the grocery store, a standard head of romaine lettuce can have as many as 2 million bacteria per gram, plus yeast, mold, and assorted germ carriers.


By Brittany Risher, Thu, Jun 23, 2011

How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables

This will make you shudder: Studies conducted at Tennessee State University found that the vegetable bin is the dirtiest part of the refrigerator. And no wonder: Fresh from the grocery store, a standard head of romaine lettuce can have as many as 2 million bacteria per gram, plus yeast, mold, and assorted germ carriers.  Swearing off fresh produce is clearly not the answer. What is? Washing it with plain, room-temperature tap water. In some cases, doing so cuts bacteria by as much as 98 percent. So stow the fancy veggie washes and sprays, and after your next trip to the store or farmers’ market, ask yourself these four questions, then follow our advice.  

Does it have edible skin? Think: apples, peaches, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers 

Scrub under running water for 30 to 60 seconds. “Running water helps remove most bacteria,” explains Brendan Niemira, Ph.D., lead scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service. Scrubbing with a vegetable brush or your fingers (to avoid bruising softer fruit like peaches) will help eliminate stubborn hangers-on. Does it have a peel?  Think: melons, oranges, and yes, even bananas Use a vegetable brush or an unused toothbrush on the peel under running water for 30 to 60 seconds. The bristles can reach into crevices on textured skins, where dirt hides. Why bother washing it if you’re not biting into it? “Microbes from the fruit’s skin can spread to the flesh when you touch it with your hands or a knife,” says Alfred Bushway, Ph.D., a professor of food science at the University of Maine. And even if you washed your hands, the 20 people who handled that fruit before you may not have. 

Does it grow in a bunch?  Think: berries, grapes 

Cut off stalks and stems where dirt can hide, dump the fruit into a colander, and hose down with your sink’s spray nozzle for at least 60 seconds. (A too-brief rinse will redistribute the dirt, not remove it, according to tests conducted by Alan Johnson at Northeast Laboratories in Connecticut.) Patting the fruit dry with paper towels will further cut down on bacteria, says Sandria Godwin, Ph.D., a professor at Tennessee State University. 

Is it leafy? Think: spinach, lettuce (even prewashed mixes) 

Discard the outer leaves and run the rest under cold water for 30 to 60 seconds. Dry with a salad spinner or blot with paper towels. Prewashed mixes are FDA-approved for eating straight from the container, but Godwin discovered “huge differences” in how well various brands of bagged greens were cleaned. So don’t wait for a recall???take a few minutes to wash it yourself

Worry if reported news is fake


TV viewers were treated to fireworks exploding behind the State House, Quincy Market, and Fenway Park, left, ??? great views, until you consider that they were impossible.

(Boston Globe)


Boston gets a nonreality show

CBS broadcasts impossible views of 4th fireworks

(Images from Youtube)

Globe Staff /

 July 8, 2011

Those who watched Boston???s revered Fourth of July celebration Monday night on CBS were treated to spectacular views of fireworks exploding behind the State House, Quincy Market, and home plate at Fenway Park, among other places – great views, until you consider that they were physically impossible.

As viewers began to point out yesterday, it would not have been geographically possible to see the fireworks above and behind the landmarks in question, since the display was launched from a barge in the Charles River and in directions away from those places.

???According to CBS, you can see the fireworks from the right side of Quincy Market, even though Beacon Hill is in the way,?????? wrote ???Kaz,?????? whose real name is Karl Clodfelter, a commenter on the Boston blog UniversalHub.com. ???Also, they come up behind the State House when you???re standing across the road . . . which means the barge must have been parked on the Zakim this year,?????? wrote Clodfelter, a research scientist from Brighton.

David Mugar, the Boston-area businessman and philanthropist who has executive produced the show for nine years, confirmed yesterday that the footage was altered. He said this was the first year such alterations were made.

Mugar said the added images were above board because the show was entertainment and not news. He said it was no different than TV drama producer David E. Kelley using scenes from his native Boston in his show ???Boston Legal?????? but shooting the bulk of each episode on a studio set in Hollywood.

???Absolutely, we???re proud to show scenes from our city,?????? Mugar said. ???It???s often only shown in film or in sporting matches. We were able to highlight great places in Boston, historical places with direct ties to the Fourth. So we think it was a good thing.??????

A CBS Television spokesman declined comment about whether the network was aware of, or approved of, the fireworks show being digitally altered.

The footage of the landmarks was shot several weeks ago. According to Mugar, camera crews from Boston 4 Productions, the production wing of Boston 4 Celebrations Foundation, the fireworks show???s parent, crisscrossed Boston and Suffolk County shooting video of famous landmarks one evening in May.

???I???d say we shot from about 8 p.m. till 4 or 5 the next morning,?????? Mugar said. ???Among other places, we got video of the Old North Church, the State House, Quincy Market, the statue of Paul Revere, Fenway Park, with the full cooperation of the Red Sox, who let us in and turned on certain lights for our shoot. And we did it all with the intention of superimposing the fireworks over the images. The technical process is called matting.??????

Entertainment or not, some viewers were not amused to learn that the footage was altered.


Eric Deggans, a Florida-based media critic and regular panelist on CNN???s media critique show ???Reliable Sources,?????? said the altered video presents a potential credibility problem for CBS.

???It is an ethical issue, and to say it???s not because the show was aired through CBS Entertainment is to imply that the entertainment side of CBS has no ethics,?????? Deggans said. ???I think – especially in today???s media environment – the most important commandment for media is to not mislead the viewer. . . . If you???re a viewer who doesn???t know Boston, you???re getting a picture of the layout of the city that doesn???t exist.??????

David A. Perry, a Massachusetts native who watches the televised fireworks each year from his home in Delaware, Ohio, and who first alerted the Globe to the altered video, had a similar, if more tempered, reaction.

???I was already just dismayed with the coverage,?????? said Perry, a 45-year-old computer programmer who left New England five years ago to relocate to his new wife???s hometown. ???They didn???t pan out enough to show what was probably a crowd of half a million. They made it seem like just 2,000 people were there. But then I started seeing some of the angles. And let me tell you, I???ve been to plenty of Sox games. So I knew the angles and the backgrounds weren???t right.

???The shame is I???ve always thought the fireworks were among the best in the country. So there was no need to add anything. The fireworks by themselves would have been good enough. Why???????

Asked about Mugar???s argument that the show was entertainment so the usual rules did not apply, Clodfelter, the commenter from Brighton, said if that???s the case ???why not superimpose Neil Armstrong on the moon???????

Top 10 Scariest Food Additives


Top 10 Scariest Food Additives

There was a time when “fruit flavored” and “cheese flavored” meant “made with real fruit” and “made with real cheese.” Today? It’s artificial everything. Most of the food at your local supermarket is no more authentic than Snooki’s tan. Our fruit comes packaged in Loops, our cheese delivered via Whiz. Sure, it’s edible, but there’s no way your great grandparents would recognize this junk as food.

The problem with additives runs deep. The FDA currently maintains a list of ingredients called Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS), which features more than 3,000 items and counting. Thankfully, most EAFUS ingredients are benign, but a few of them do have potentially harmful effects. Why they’re legal is a mystery to us. Some of them might be backed by powerful lobby groups, while others probably survive simply because some guy at the FDA has too much paperwork on his desk and hasn’t made time to adequately review the data.

Below are 10 of the most dubious ingredients hiding in your food, compliments ofEat This, Not That! 2011. Even if you’re not convinced of their danger, you have to admit this: The more filler ingredients you cut from your diet, the more space you have for wholesome, nutritious foods.

DROP 15 POUNDS FOR SUMMER: You can lose a couple of inches fast–and without dieting. Follow me right here on Twitter for daily weight-loss secrets. (Sample: A daily glass of red wine can keep you from putting on fat, especially around your belly. Experts cite resveratrol. Cheers!) 


Scary Ingredient #1: Olestra
A fat substitute synthesized by Procter & Gamble. Because human digestive enzymes can’t break down the big molecules, Olestra contributes 0 calories to your diet.

Why it???s scary

: In the late ???90s, Frito-Lay released Olestra-enhanced WOW chips and Procter & Gamble introduced Fat Free Pringles. Both products were required to carry warning labels to notify customers about the risk of “loose stools.” Within 4 years, some 15,000 people had dialed in to a hotline set up specifically to handle adverse-reaction complaints. Apparently the complaints didn’t move the FDA, because in 2003, the administration revoked the warning-label mandate. If you want to take your chances with diarrhea, go ahead, but first consider this: Olestra also appears to interfere with the body’s ability to absorb some crucial nutrients like beta-carotene and lycopene. To counteract the effect, processers add some nutrients back, but it’s unlikely that all the blocked nutrients are adequetly replaced.

Furthermore, just last week I tweeted that an animal study at Purdue University found that fake fats like Olestra may cause more weight gain than real fat.

Where you???ll find it

: Lay???s Light chips, Pringles Light chips

20 NEW TERRIBLE FOODS! Some restaurant foods have an entire day’s worth of calories and several days’ worth of fat and salt. Avoid these shocking diet disasters at all costs: The Worst Foods in America! 

Scary Ingredient #2: Caramel Coloring


An artificial pigment created by heating sugars. Frequently, this process includes ammonia.

Why it???s scary: Caramel coloring shows up in everything from soft drinks and sauces to breads and pastries. When made from straight sugar, it’s relatively benign. But when produced with ammonia it puts off 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, chemicals that have been linked to cancer in mice. The risk is strong enough that the California government, a bellwether for better food regulation, categorized 4-methylimidazole as ???known to cause cancer??? earlier this year. Unfortunately, companies aren’t required to disclose whether their coloring is made with ammonia, so you’d be wise to avoid it as much as you can.

Where you’ll find it: Colas and other soft drinks, La Choy soy sauce, Stove Top stuffing mix


Scary Ingredient #3: Saccharin
An artificial sweetener discovered by accident in the 1870s.

Why it???s scary: Studies have linked saccharin to bladder tumors in rats, and in 1977, the FDA required warning labels on all saccharin-containing foods. In 2000, the agency changed its stance and allowed saccharin to be sold without warning labels. But that doesn’t make it entirely safe. A 2008 Purdue study found that replacing sugar with saccharin in rats??? diets made them gain more weight, proving once again that you should be aware of these faux fat foes. 

Where you’ll find it: Sweet ???N Low, TaB cola

YOUR NEW SHOPPING LIST! There are more than 45,000 options in the average supermarket. Some will wreck your waistline; some will shrink it. The easiest way to choose: Go ahead and put anything from our list of the 125 Best Supermarket Foodsin your shopping cart–and watch the pounds drop away!

Scary Ingredient #4: Potassium Bromate
A compound that conditions flour and helps bread puff up during baking.

Why it???s scary: Potassium bromate causes thyroid and kidney tumors in rats, and it’s banned from food use in many countries. In California, products containing potassium bromate are required to carry a cancer warning. Fortunately, negative publicity has made the additive relatively rare, but until the FDA banishes it, you should remain on the lookout. 

Where you’ll find it: Johnny Rockets Hoagie Roll 

TERRIBLE SALADS: Even foods that sound perfectly healthy can be secretly loaded with  dangerous amounts of fat and sodium. To prove it, we’ve collected this absolutely shocking list of 20 Salads Worse Than a Whopper. (Yes, in THESE cases it’s better for you to have the burger instead!)


Scary Ingredient #5: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Petroleum-derived antioxidants and preservatives.

Why they’re scary: The Department of Health and Human Services says BHA is ???reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” yet the FDA allows it to be used anyway. BHT is considered less dangerous, but in animal research, it too has resulted in cancer. Oddly, the chemicals aren???t even always necessary; in most cases they can be replaced with vitamin E. 

Where you’ll find it: Goya lard, Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Orbit gum


Scary Ingredient #6: Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil 
A semi-solid fat created when food processors force hydrogen into unsaturated fatty acids.

Why it’s scary: Partially hydrogenated fats are the principle sources of trans fat in the American diet, and a Harvard study estimated that trans fat causes 70,000 heart attacks every year. The good news: Partially hydrogenated oils are beginning to slowly retreat from our food. Progressive jurisdictions like New York City are starting to restrict the allowable amounts in restaurants, and many chains are switching to healthier frying oil. Still, the battle isn???t over. At Long John Silver???s, for example, there are still 17 menu items with more than 2 grams of the stuff. According to the American Heart Association, that’s about the maximum you should consume in a single day. 

Where you’ll find it: McDonald???s McChicken, Long John Silver???s Broccoli Cheese Soup


Scary Ingredient #7: Sulfites
Preservatives that maintain the color of food, and by releasing sulfur dioxide, prevent bacterial growth.

Why it’s scary: Humans have used sulfites to keep food fresh for thousands of years, but some people???especially asthma sufferers???experience breathing difficulties when exposed. In the 1980s, unregulated use resulted in at least a dozen deaths, prompting the FDA to slap warning labels on wine bottles and develop new guidelines for proper use. Now restaurants can no longer soak fresh ingredients in sulfites. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, there have been no known deaths since the new legislation took hold. The bottom line: If you’re among the majority of people not sensitive to sulfites, consumption won???t hurt you. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor for a test.

Where you’ll find it: Wine, Sun-Maid Mixed Fruit, Jolly Ranchers, Fig Newtons

SNACK YOURSELF THIN! It can be a challenge to find snacks low in sugar and high in protein and fiber. Our list of the 50 Best Snack Foods in America will help keep you lean and full all day long!


Scary Ingredient #8: Azodicarbonamide 
A synthetic yellow-orange dough conditioner 

Why it’s scary: This chemical is used most frequently in the production of industrial foam plastic, and although the FDA has approved its use for food in the States, the United Kingdom has labeled it a potential cause of asthma. In a review of 47 studies on azodicarbonamide, the World Health Organization concluded that it probably does trigger asthmatic symptoms. The WHO concluded, ???exposure levels should be reduced as much as possible.??? I???ll put it more concisely: Avoid it. 

Where you’ll find it: Dunkin??? Donuts bagels, McDonald???s burger buns


Scary Ingredient #9: Carrageenan
A thickener and emulsifier extracted from seaweed.

Why it’s scary: Seaweed is actually good for you, but carrageenan is a mere seaweed byproduct. Through animal studies, it has been linked to cancer, colon trouble, and ulcers. It isn???t certain that carrageenan harms humans, but avoiding it is clearly the safer option. Most studies examined degraded forms of the additive, and research from the University of Iowa found that carrageenan could be degraded through the normal digestive process.

Where you’ll find it: Weight Watchers Giant Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream Bars, Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches, Creamsicles 


Scary Ingredient #10: Ammonium Sulfate
An inorganic salt that occurs naturally near active volcanoes and is used commercially to nourish yeast and help bread rise.

Why it’s scary: This nitrogen-rich compound is most often used as fertilizer, and also appears commonly in flame retardants. Thankfully, the ingredient only sounds scary???a 2006 Japanese rat study found the additive to be non-carcinogenic. Both the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the FDA deem it safe.

Where you’ll find it: Nature???s Own bread, Subway rolls