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Wallet contents could be goldmine for fraudsters, research warns

Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent
·3-min read

The everyday contents of people’s wallets and purses are potentially a goldmine for fraudsters, research suggests.

People may effectively be handing fraudsters the “keys” to their finances by storing vital clues about their personal lives in their wallets, according to financial consultancy Enryo, which commissioned the research.

Its findings suggest many people should perhaps take the opportunity over Christmas to give their wallet a thorough detox.

One in 20 (5%) people surveyed keeps their Pin in their wallet, with the same proportion (5%) carrying online banking passwords in it – potentially leaving them highly vulnerable to fraud if their wallet is lost or stolen.

Men are more likely than women to keep a note of Pins in their wallet, with the biggest “culprits” being 18 to 34-year-olds, according to the survey.

Those aged over 54 are less likely to write passwords or Pin numbers down and carry them with them, the research suggests.

More than two-fifths (44%) of people surveyed carry their driving licence in their wallet, Enryo found.

And one in 10 (10%) also has something else with their contact details or home address stored in their wallet.

Fraudsters piece together information about their victims like a jigsaw.

They may use it to plunder their accounts directly or commit identity fraud by applying for loans and other forms of credit in someone else’s name.

Personal details such as names, addresses, ages, mobile phone numbers and bank account details give criminals important information, enabling them to hit the jackpot.

Keeping a card together with a Pin and online banking passwords could make it very easy for a criminal to dip into someone else’s account, if they get their hands on that person’s wallet.

It may also put the victim in a difficult position when trying to claim their money back for unauthorised transactions. The card provider may take the view that the victim did not take reasonable steps to protect their security and has been negligent.

If someone’s cards are lost or stolen, they should tell their bank immediately so that transactions can be blocked.

Plastic and cash are the most popular contents of a person’s wallet or purse, with debit cards (72%), cash (62%) and credit cards (47%) being the most popular items, the research found.

Two-fifths (40%) of consumers still regularly carry more than £15 in cash with them, the survey of more than 2,000 people carried out by Opinium in December found.

One in 10 (10%) people said they carry more than £50.

More than a third (35%) of people keep loyalty cards in their wallets, 28% have receipts, 26% keep membership cards, and 20% keep bus and train tickets.

Nearly a fifth (19%) keep stamps and one in seven (14%) has photos of their family or themselves.

Enryo director David Fagleman said: “Much has been spoken about the UK becoming a cashless society, but this research shows that Brits are actually making use of a multitude of payment methods – cash, debit and credit cards.

“There is little doubt that payment by cash is still clearly very popular. What is very worrying, however, is that people are carrying lots of personal financial details around with them.

“People need to be very aware of what they carry in their wallets or purses because if they lose them they could really open themselves up to financial fraud.”