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Why you should never carry receipts in your wallet

Is your wallet exploding like George Costanza's? That could be a problem. Images: Getty, Sony Pictures Television

In an episode of Seinfeld, George Costanza carries around a wallet so big it affects how he sits and even gives him back problems. 

But according to FBI fraud expert and notorious con artist, Frank Abagnale, carrying too many receipts around can cause more than inconvenience. 

Abagnale, who was immortalised in the film Catch Me If You Can, explained for CNBC how these innocuous pieces of paper can pose a threat to your identity. 

While it makes sense that if crooks get their hands on your credit card, you’re at risk of identity theft, it’s also important to understand that receipts can pose a similar threat.

“The theft of a wallet is unnerving, to say the least, and it’s a huge burden for many,” Abagnale said. 

“Even items considered detritus by most people have scraps of usable information, such as the last four digits of your credit card, which can be used to help reconstruct entire account numbers.”

Adam Levin, founder of global identity protection firm CyberScout, echoed Abagnale’s words.

He told Business Insider how a crook could repeat your spending habits without appearing suspicious, if they knew where your money was going. And phishers could send you fake emails purportedly from your favourite businesses. 

“Why have a data point that, if someone could get their hands on that, would enable them to know just one more piece of the puzzle?” Levin said. “If I don’t need it, don’t throw it away—shred it.”

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