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5 Things You Shouldn't Keep in Your Car

For many people, a car is like a traveling storage bin. But there are some things you shouldn't keep in your car -- unless you want potential thieves to purloin your personal information.

It's generally easier to break into someone's car to steal something than to break into a home, so you want to make sure that your valuables and items with personal data are locked up in a place where criminals can't easily access.

What items are particularly risky? Here are five things you shouldn't keep in your car:

  1. Your Passport. Regardless of what country you're in, you should never leave a passport in your car. This is especially important if you're traveling abroad and renting a car. Replacing your passport can be a huge hassle, and you always run the risk of identity theft.
  2. Your Social Security card. Along with passports, Social Security cards are often used to commit identity theft. Since Social Security numbers don't have photo IDs, they can easily be stolen and used to open credit cards or fake accounts under your name.
  3. GPS -- especially if addresses are programmed into it. While it makes sense to keep your GPS in your car so you can get directions whenever you need to, you should consider removing your GPS device from your car when you're not driving. GPS devices can contain a huge amount of private information, like your home address. Don't give criminals directions to where you live and work.
  4. Cell phones. Smartphones are hot commodities, and leaving your cell phone in your car is a great way to ask for a break-in. Although you should use a password to protect personal information on your phone, if hackers can log in, then they may be privy to your contacts, email, and online banking apps. So don't leave your phone in your car -- or consider carrying an outdated flip phone that criminals wouldn't want (we're only half-kidding about that).
  5. Credit cards. For financial security, you shouldn't keep credit or debit cards in your car. Criminals can easily steal these cards and go on a shopping spree. If your credit or debit card has been stolen from your car, contact your banking institution immediately.

These are just a few of items you shouldn't keep in your car. A good rule of thumb: If something is valuable or reveals personal data about you, don't leave it in your vehicle.

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