Works For Me: Purse Safety

As you might imagine, I have purse issues on the brain.  My purse was stolen a week ago, and my husband and I have spent untold hours working on all the credit card/ checking  account/driver’s license issues.

(And also?  I have gone purse shopping, and I have a very cute one to show for my efforts.  My grandmother called me as soon as she heard about the theft, her voice full of sympathy and righeous indignation.  “Honey, I want to buy you a new purse.  Even if it’s not on sale.”  Those are fightin’ words for the women shoppers in my family.  We even went out for a Sonic Diet Coke afterwards, so my weary soul is feeling soothed.)

Now that I’ve had my purse stolen TWICE in eight months, I’ve learned a few tips I’d like to share with those of you who have not yet had my encounter with criminal dark side of humanity:

1.  For the frickin’-frackin’ love of Pete, do not EVER leave your purse in your car.  EVER.  Even if it’s daylight, even if it’s a good part of town, even if you’re just running inside, even if your car is in your garage.

2.  If you are ever tempted to leave your purse in your car, smack yourself in the head with it and read #1 again.

3.  We’ve always had one credit card and one checking account.  Not anymore, as a result of this little adventure.  Now we have two of each.  One credit card and checking account is for actually keeping with us in my purse and/or Hubs’ wallet.  It’s only for daily purchases.  We are setting up separate credit card/checking accounts for all our automatic fund withdrawls, and [*insert flashing lights*] WE ARE NOT CARRYING THOSE ACCOUNTS WITH US.  THEY WILL BE LOCKED IN A DRAWER AT HOME.  That way if this happens to us again, we won’t have to cancel those “locked-up” accounts, and we won’t lose a week of our lives moving all the automatic transfers over.

4.  Photocopy everything in your purse, and keep it in a safe place.  Driver’s license, credit cards (front and back), health insurance cards, everything should be copied!.  This may sound high maintenance, but I promise, if your purse is ever taken, you will weep with gratitude that you did this.

5.  Did I mention you should never leave your purse in your car?

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90 thoughts on “Works For Me: Purse Safety

  1. Domestic Spaz says:

    I’ve never thought about opening a 2nd bank account. That is wonderful advice.
    I leave my purse in my car all the time. I’m so guilty. I’ll stop, I promise.

  2. LeeAnn (AKA FrazzMom) says:

    Having had a purse stolen as well- I heartily second your photocopying tip… There is no feeling worse than knowing that someone may be emptying your bank account and running up credit card bills while you’re hunting down your account numbers!

  3. aunt mommy says:

    You mentioned the broke into the car – any damage? 😦
    I’ve never had a purse or wallet stolen. Mostly lost out of my own sheer clumsyness. Well, I did have one very vicious purse that “lost” my wallet for two weeks and destroyed a $300 camera I’d bought with a bonus/raise I’d earned.
    Want to try to break the jinx of a very cute black and white shoulder purse that closes with a single magnet/snap?

  4. Blue Castle says:

    I’m so sorry you had to learn all this the hard way, but thank you for the advice. I will be putting this to good use. I am glad you got to get a new purse out of it, though! 🙂

  5. Teble says:

    I’ve heard a million times that I should photocopy both sides of all my cards, and yet I keep putting it off. Tomorrow, mark my words, I’m going to make myself do this.
    Also, cancel any accounts that you aren’t using. You know the ones I mean–where they talk you into signing up for the store’s credit card and you do it so you can save the extra 15% and then you never use it again. Cancel them before someone else maxes out your account for you.

  6. LifeatTheCircus says:

    REALLY good tips… You made a lot of points about things I KNOW I should and shouldn’t do… like leave my purse in the car… I am REALLY guilty of this one. Thanks for correcting me!

  7. Michelle@Life with Three says:

    I really needed this reminder — I am so bad about leaving my purse in the car. It’s so easy to rationalize that it’s daytime, it’s a safe area, I live in the country, etc.
    Your suggestion about having two credit cards/bank accounts is really smart — I never considered that before. You’re right, it would save a lot of time and headaches.
    I’m so sorry you had to go through this — but I appreciate you sharing your “lessons learned.”

  8. Andrea says:

    This is all true. My husband manages a bank and you won’t believe how many people come in per week because their purse was stolen. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PURSES OR ANYTHING OF THE LIKE VISIBLE IN YOUR CARS. We live in a pretty nice area and theft has gone up in this aspect quite a bit. Great adivce.

  9. Darla says:

    Thanks for this great reminder! I will photocopy my wallet right now. Tips we use: we have three different credit cards. One number we use just for on-line purposes. Another one for the husband, and another one for me. This way if his wallet is stolen we have mine (in both our names). If mine is stolen we have his (also in my name). And another tip: all mail that is money related (most of it!) goes to a PO Box that has a different zip code. If someone gets your card they will usually use the zip code of your home address. It won’t work.
    Thanks again!

  10. momrn2 says:

    Oh, the copy everything is a great tip I have never thought of. Guess what I’ll be doing with a few minutes of tomorrow??
    Thanks! 🙂

  11. kellie says:

    I am so sorry for this latest purse caper. Especially since this is the second go around.
    But I have to tell you that today, when I parked in the street across from the kids school today, I took my purse with me. I NEVER did that before. I just figured I was right out side the school, and would only be a minute. Plus, there are people milling about all over the place…right?
    I thought of you as I flung my purse over my shoulder, and was grateful that you shared your story so that people like me can learn!
    Hang in there!

  12. Mommy says:

    Can we see a picture of the new purse? (Or are you afraid putting up a picture online would be like setting out a target on a shooting range?? 😉
    Grandmas are great!

  13. Sandwiched says:

    I had my wallet stolen at the grocery store a couple of years ago. Not fun. You’d think I would’ve learned, but no. But maybe this is a good kick in the pants to go photocopy that stuff!

  14. Green Baby says:

    Great tips! I’ve photocopied the contents of my purse when traveling abroad, but haven’t thought about the fact that I really should do it here–especially since my purse has so much extra info in it that I never carry on vacations!

  15. Hislifeformine says:

    Been there, done that! Only once, it is quite traumatic isn’t it? I’m so sorry it happened twice to you.
    Now, I’m pretty intense about not leaving my purse or anyone else’s in my car anymore.
    Love the WFMW and thought I’d play today.

  16. Julesie says:

    I love the advice about the double accounts – that is a truly fabulous idea!!!! Plus, if you don’t use those ATM cards, you’re much less likely to have them copied and used fraudulently, leaving less work later!!!

  17. Karen (Simply A Musing Blog) says:

    Thanks, Shannon. I hate that you’ve had to experience this in order to give us this phenomenal advice, but I am ever so appreciative. I have never thought of the separate account for automatic withdrawals. And to be sure, I haven’t photocopied anything, but I will be at office depot bright and early in the morning to do just that.

  18. JeanneE says:

    AWESOME advice… best of luck for no future purse thefts 🙂 I had mine stolen and I now wear a fanny pack (as in, I never put it down!). I do feel a little fashion challenged at times, but it’s worth it I think. Oh yes and I keep photocopies of everything in my wallet – no originals (except for a credit and debit card). What was really infuriating about my purse theft was that I spent $$$ replacing everything, and then a week later got a phone call from someone who had found it… everything was there, all my ID, etc., – only cash was missing. So I went to the expense of replacing everything for nothing. Arrrgh!! lol

  19. Ellen says:

    I’ll have to take your advice. I leave my purse in the car and hide it under a coat. But, I bet thieves probably know that trick and aren’t fooled by it.
    I’ve accidentally signed up 4 times on Mr. Linky. When I reloaded this page 3 times, it automatically signed me up. So, I need to be deleted from #66,#67, #70

  20. Runningamuck says:

    Thanks for the great purse advice. My grandma had hers stolen while she had her back turned to put the groceries in the trunk. Right out of the grocery cart! I think of her every time I’m headed back out to my car with my groceries… and I put my purse in FIRST… and then the kids. lol!!

  21. ally simpson says:

    thats sucks about your purse! I had my iPod touch stolen just before Christmas, it was a birthday gift from my wife……………i was so angry & uptight afterwards that i was almost physically sick, i honestly would have assaulted the guy or girl if id seen them take it!

  22. Amy says:

    I have an additional tip on the credit card photocopies that might be helpful. Instead of photocopying both sides of the credit card, just make a copy of the front, and then write down the three-digit verficiation number from the back of the card *in a separate place.* That way you have all the information you would need if you had to replace the card, but if somehow your photocopy of the card made it into the wrong hands, they wouldn’t have that three-digit number.
    I got that tip recently when I was traveling abroad, and I was taking a copy of my credit card with me, so it may not be as big of a deal if your copies are locked up somewhere at home. But I thought it might help someone. 🙂

  23. Michelle says:

    I’m so sorry your purse got stolen. Thank you for the tip of photo copying everything in my purse. I wouldn’t have thought about that.
    Last year I began making a listing of all of our “big ticket” items in the house; recording serial/model numbers, descriptions, etc. My husband thought I was NUTS, with a capital “N”
    That was until last Thanksgiving when we were broken into and my only pieces of good jewelry, our tv, and our cameras were stolen. It only took me a matter of minutes to locate all the information for the police and for the insurance company. He didn’t think I was so “NUTS” then!
    A little pre-planning goes a LONG LONG way!

  24. lynley says:

    Oops…I added my name, but forgot to actually put what works for me next to it. Feel free to delete number 137 (i did it correctly in number 139). Sorry.
    We need to see pictures of that cute new purse!

  25. Lori says:

    Thanks so much for posting this. It has really struck home with me. We have had instances similar, and you have inspired me to prepare (ie: make copies). Thanks so much! And I’m terribly sorry that you’ve had to deal with this TWICE! What a pain! Blessings! Lori

  26. canadacole says:

    Great advise! I never leave my purse in my car but I don’t have a very good backup plan. I think I’ll lay out my cards on our scanner and save a file on the computer.
    As far as the second account goes, we do this with the internet too. I kept my old student credit card with the very low limit and we use that for our online purchases. That way if someone gets our number there is very little they can do before they reach the limit.

  27. Kim says:

    Just and FYI – the Mr Linky text color is really difficult to read because it is so light and then when you click it changes to pink and is even lighter. Us older folk LOL need better glasses.

  28. Suzie says:

    Back in my teacher days, I had my wallet stolen twice. Fortunately, it was a seventh grader who only wanted cash. One time I was looking out the window of my classroom and saw my wallet on a ledge outside of the girls’ bathroom mirror. Only the cash was gone.
    Those are great tips, and I love your grandmother buying your purse.
    Also wanted to let you know that I finally convinced my husband to move our socks down by the back door and it definitely works for me. That was also a great tip.

  29. Sheila says:

    That’s a great idea with the two credit cards! I always only carry one when I travel, but I haven’t done that at home. I shall have to try!
    I have a post up on clothing allowances this week! Come on by and check it out.
    Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

  30. Sonshine says:

    Great tips! I hadn’t thought about photocopying everything in my purse! Guess I will be doing that and it will also help me to get the “unneeded” things out!
    Thanks for sharing!

  31. Kristenkj says:

    This is such good advice. You would think with my history of having my purse stolen, I would be more responsible. But where do you think my wallet is, right now? In my car. Well, to be fair, the car is in the garage, which is locked, but still, there was a rash of car break-ins in our neighborhood about two years back, and the cars were…in their garages. Unbelievable. Thanks again for the good advice. I’ve got to go get my purse now!

  32. ames says:

    Very sound advice. I’m so sorry to hear about your purse, but I would really hope that the person who took it had a *really* good reason, like a family to feed. I had a wallet stolen once and *everything* from one Christmas stolen from my luggage at the airport flying home from my family’s, so I know how horrifying it feels, and how raw you are, and how tough it is to pick up the pieces. Big hugs to you!

  33. Bella says:

    That’s why I buy great looking purses…I HAVE to carry it with me….I used to leave mine in the car all the time…until I caught a neighbor boy in my car going thru my purse!

  34. fuschia says:

    Thanks for the tips, especially the making copies part. I had my wallet stolen from my car several years ago; I had 14 credit cards in it! What a nightmare! Just one more good reason to stay out of debt 😉
    Shannon, please read my post today for a personal message!

  35. Kara says:

    I’m sooo sorry about your purse! Good advice. My mom taught me to always cover your purse with something if you leave it in the car or throw it in the trunk…but I just looked in my SUV and my girls have a total of three purses scattered around in plain sight of anyone looking in!!! Guess I need to pass on the advice:)

  36. Rachel Silverman says:

    one more tip (although its not always one that I like to follow) – carry purses that have zipper closures, not snap ones (or no closures for that matter!). Pickpockers will have a harder time getting to your wallet inside a zipped bag than a snapped one. And since I am just as likely to lose my wallet because it fell out (on its own, clearly!) than I am to have someone reach in and take it – zippers prevent that as well!

  37. kdaily says:

    A few months ago I had my credit card stolen online and I was advised by my Father and the credit card company to call the national credit-reporting organizations and place a fraud alert on my name and social security number. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your info was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit. This can stop a thief in his tracks.
    Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
    Experian: 1-888-397-3742
    Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289

  38. Anna says:

    Great tips Shannon! I had my car stolen last summer with my purse in it and it takes FOREVER to cancel CC and figure out what all was in there.
    I’ll definitely copy my wallet belongings, never thought of that!

  39. Sherida says:

    Great tips. I have a friend whose purse was stolen THE EXACT SAME WAY about a month or so ago. She as just running in ‘really quick,’ and when she got back, the window was broken, and the purse was gone.
    I especially like your tips about the second checking account and the photocopies. I’ll talk with my hubby about getting those things started up.

  40. Phyllis@Aimless Conversation says:

    So sorry for your theft. It is awful to have things stolen. Hubby and I have both had our cars broken into since our recent move…our cars are parked right in front of the house, in plain sight…no matter to a thief though. (they only got away with small things like cigarette lighter plug-in adapter/MP3 transmitter…not cheap stuff, but not super expensive either)
    I did wonder about your purse though. Did you try to hide it at all? On the occasions that I have left my bag in the van, I usually throw a blanket, diaper bag, kids back pack, McDonalds bag (get the picture) over top of it so that it is not visible.
    Perhaps your van is much cleaner than mine? =)

  41. Kristin says:

    I don’t leave my purse in the car. I just don’t. I figure if I’ve lugged it with me, it’s staying with me. :^) I have actually now downsized to a small pouch that has a real long strap that I hang around my neck & under my arm. It holds a cell phone and a few credit cards, my chapstick, lipstick and business cards. I love it.
    I photocopied everything a few months ago when we got a new printer and I wanted to check out the settings LOL I thought it was a good way to use my resources. Then I put all of the credit cards I rarely use in another location and just kept one of two in my purse pouch.
    One thing folks about canceling your credit cards — if you are planning on getting a loan or are needing to move, your credit score might go down if you cancel too many cards all at once. If you aren’t planning on needing a great credit score in the next few months, then go ahead and cancel those cards.
    Have a great day!
    Thanks Shannon!!!!

  42. Shelly says:

    You sure have had the worst luck. I photocopied the contents of my wallet a few months ago. I thought I had lost it and then after I found it I immediately did it to prevent panic from killing my brain.

  43. Heather says:

    I had my purse stolen the year after I graduated from college. As I had recently graduated and just started a job, my two credit cards were maxed and rejected at both places the thief tried to use them. Sweet!

  44. tiffany McGuigan says:

    Great advise!! Honestly I would have never thought to copy things and keep them in a safe place. I am making that a project for this weekend!

  45. lisa (lost pezhead) says:

    i have all my info copied….it’s a good idea to go ahead and copy your house deed and marriage license and birth cert. and other important documents as well in case of a natural disaster…stick em in with your emergency backpack or whatever in case you aren’t able to get to your home or your things are destroyed.
    if i do have to leave my purse in the car…like we’re going on a hike etc…i try to take just my wallet or cover my purse with a blanket, stick it under the seats or in the truck…OUT OF SIGHT.

  46. Sally says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your purse being stolen again. (I am several days behind on my blog-reading and was catching up today.)
    I once put my purse on top of my car while I was buckling my preschooler into her car seat-she just turned 18 last week and is about to graduate from high school, if that tells you how long ago this happened-anyway, of course I meant to grab the purse before I drove off, but I was in a hurry, as usual, and I completely forgot the purse was on top of the car. I drove down the road, not realizing my mistake, until I got to my destination. I went back along all the roads I had taken trying to see if I could find the purse, but it was nowhere to be found. So I took my preschooler to her parent/teacher conference, which was where we were headed in the first place, and of course she had to tell the teacher ALL about what happened to Mommy’s purse on the way there… when I got home there was a message on my phone from the Highway Patrol office saying two teenage boys found my purse and turned it in to the station and I could come and claim it. Those boys had every chance to steal everything and run off with it, because they were not evenfrom our town, but they chose to do the right thing and turn it in intact. Of course I sent each of them an award. That was back in 1994, unfortunately, I’m not sure that kind of thing happens anymore……..

  47. jen says:

    Not participating in WFMW today, but I just wanted to say I love, love, love that your grandmother wanted to buy you a new purse “even if it’s not on sale!” That just rocks!
    Also, thanks for all you do to keep WFMW on the up and up! 🙂

  48. Leslie says:

    I have to admit that I have left my purse in the car when I knew that I would be back in just a moment, but I’ll never do that again! It’s just not worth it. Thanks for the advice!

  49. Jen says:

    Shopping for a purse. Wow. I hate that, I guess it’s because it’s the kind of thing you only can know when you see. But oh, the joy when you find it!
    I promise I will smack myself in the head with my frickin-frackin purse if I ever leave it in the car.

  50. Amanda says:

    Good idea with the 2nd bank account. We’d be in very big trouble if my purse was stolen, though in truth, I’m more likely to leave it somewhere.

  51. GiBee says:

    For the love of Pete … I have to say … tip number 3 for automatic transfers has got to be the smartest thing I’ve heard in FOREVER. Thank you, and I’m going to do this soon!!!

  52. fullheartandhands mama says:

    I better go make copies right now! I’ve been meaning to do that for, well, like forever!
    Thanks for warning us not to get paranoid. I immediately reviewed what I’ve posted in the past few weeks.
    Enjoy your new purse.

  53. RhoDelta says:

    I hope I did this right! I love the ideas!! My husband is police officer and gets onto me constantly for leaving my purse in the front seat!

  54. that girl says:

    I recently lost my purse and it was luckily returned to me with everything there… except my atm card. We were able to get a new one before anyone used it, but what a nightmare.

  55. AF says:

    I almost left my big bag (with laptop in it) in the car yesterday while I ran to get lunch. I immediately remember your post and drug the thing in with me.

  56. Linda Sue says:

    So do we get a picture of the wonderful new purse? I mean – please share – I love purses and rarely buy one I truly like. I’m carrying a hideous big one now I got for “spend $49 on shoes and get this free tote bag” from DSW shoes. I keep the nice ones in the closet – makes sense huh?

  57. Dawn says:

    Sorry to hear you had your purse stolen. I like your idea of leaving the info at home.Have you ever thought about getting a safety deposit box at the bank? I just found out recently from my mom they are quite reasonable price. I think she pays something like $50 a year for an 11x14x4 inch box at her credit union. This way if your house/apartment is ever broken into, (heaven forbid!) you are still safe when it comes to those documents. Including social security cards, birth certificates, car titles.. etc.

  58. Tamara Cosby says:

    I have a question regarding this WFMW, I know you normally do a backwards day, but I am a little desperate and was wondering if I could write a question on this WFMW but didn’t want to do it without your permission 😉 THANK YOU!!!! Tamara

  59. rechelle says:

    Sorry about the purse= that is pure crap. Ugh! I fall completely apart with paperwork and credit accounts and making hideous phone calls to huge megaconglomerates. Hope you had good luck with the aftermath.

  60. Laura says:

    That is an excellent piece of advice about photocopying everything in your wallet and keeping it in a very safe place. Another good thing is to write SEE PHOTO ID on the back of your cards rather than signing your signature. Learned that in an identity theft seminar once.
    I always worry about the car being broken into – it’s always a shame that there are such bad people in this world.

  61. Debbie says:

    Don’t leave you purse in a grocery cart either. Last night when I was getting groceries a lady’s purse was stolen right out of her cart.

  62. mod*mom says:

    that’s aweful about your purse, you poor mama!
    thank you for the reminders, my purse is under my carseat + i’ll go get it + scan the cards.

  63. Heather says:

    JUST FOR YOU I retrieved my purse from my car at 4:22am this morning when I dreamed it was stolen and I didn’t have everything photocopied. My husband thinks I’m crazy and doesn’t want me to read blogs anymore. 🙂

  64. Bailey's Leaf says:

    I am so sorry! I thought that I remembered your purse being stolen before.
    I promise. I won’t leave the purse in the car at all anymore, even for a few minutes!

  65. NerdMom says:

    You mention in a good neighborhood. I live in a bad neighborhood and haven’t had anything stolen. The crooks leave my neighborhood and go rob the “nice” ones;).

  66. mire says:

    Shop your way to the end of world hunger…
    Go to site: and choose the Hunger Project as your charity and then do ALL your shopping on line and tell ALL your friends to as well. With the rice calamity going on right now this site is a great way to take the money that you would already be spending and have some of it go towards a group dedicated to ending hunger around the world. Take a look for yourself and ENJOY!!!

  67. Sandy (Learn to Read Tips) says:

    I don’t carry a purse. I put my keys,
    my credit cards, my license, my auto
    insurance card in a little slot on the
    driver’s side. I put valuables in a cup
    holder. One less thing to remember.
    I only carry one key. The rest of my
    stuff is hid in my car. I AM MEMORY IMPAIRED
    Sandy 🙂
    I signed up twice.
    I just left the URL to my site.
    I love to teach, to read to my kids.
    My site is about life, love, family, faith
    and learning about this that and everything.

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