Weekend Project: Photocopy Your Wallet

We’ve all been there, that sickening feeling as you reach for your back pocket, only to find your wallet gone. A frantic search turns up nothing. You feel sad. But you wouldn’t feel that sad if you had photocopied the contents of your wallet. Then you would have a legal copy of your license to use until it got replaced, and all your account numbers and the phone numbers you need to call for replacements. So take a second this weekend to pop your wallet into the photocopy or scanner and keep the paper in a safe place. You might be very glad some day that you did.

(Photo: Getty)

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  1. Death says:

    If you scan it, make the scan accessible online (securely of course) in case you are closer to the internet than your xerox copy.

  2. SVreader says:

    I’ve got one of my passport, but not of my wallet. Thanks!

  3. ColoradoShark says:

    FWIW, I’ve never had that sickening feeling. I always carry my wallet in my front pocket. I expect most people are going to be much more sensitive to see a hand go down the front of their pants than the back of their pants.

    Also, back doctors consider it a good thing to not have a big lumpy wallet under one one side of your butt. You can see how that would get the base of your spine tilted and everything goes bad after that.

  4. Michael Belisle says:

    I have a better idea: keep four cards (±2 as necessary) in your wallet. For me, its the credit card of the month, a cash card, driver’s license, and student ID. Oh and the frequency card for my favorite burrito shop, Freebirds. I offloaded the rest into the “rarely use” pile.

    I’ve heard varying reports on the legality of photocopying a driver’s license. Is there a reference for that says A) that you can and B) it’s a legal copy for some purpose?

  5. ClayS says:

    @ColoradoShark:
    “I expect most people are going to be much more sensitive to see a hand go down the front of their pants than the back of their pants.”

    I’m with you on that.

  6. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    @ColoradoShark:
    Good point. I keep my wallet in my back pocket but had to switch sides and clean it out after I kept getting an inflamed muscle (cant remember name, its on the right side buttox) that when inflamed hit upon my sciatic (spelling?) nerve causing me immense amounts of pain and lost sleep.

    Now on my left side and much much slimmer, I have no problems.

  7. CuriousO says:

    I just have my Scar face money Clip with 40-60 dollars, drivers license and Blue Amex.

  8. Shannon says:

    Ah, I’ll make a note of that, but I think I’d have to photo copy my purse.

  9. DeeJayQueue says:

    @Michael Belisle: I’ve been working in the print-for-pay industry since 1999. The rules that I’ve always gone by are thus:

    -You can copy any ID card or passport or credit card at 100% size in black and white only.

    -You may not color copy driver’s licences, passports or any other ID cards at all. The only exception to this rule is if you enlarge the copy 150% or reduce it 75%. Basically making it obvious that it’s a copy. Most ID cards have microprint or holograms that show up when you try to make a copy of them. I’m not sure about the new passports.

    -Some of the newer color copiers will actually shut down or print a “Skypage” (all black) if you try to copy something you’re not supposed to, like money or ID cards.

  10. plustax says:

    I just photocopied my wallet but I am not sure what good that will do. It’s black leather with black stitching all around. There was some nice texture to the wallet when I bought it several years ago but now it is mostly smooth and a little worn. I’ll try scanning my wallet into my computer when I get home from work. But again I don’t know, I guess so at least it may show a bit more detail of my black leather wallet with the black stitching just a little bit better. Thanks for the tip. :)

  11. B says:

    @plustax: If you need to replace it, bring the photocopy to the store, and you can find one just like it.

  12. Rolcol says:

    Wait… a copy of your license is still legal?

  13. AT203 says:

    Regarding the legality of photocopying your own ID. Do it, who cares about the legality? 1) who is going to find out, the photocopy is in your fire-safe so that you have the ID# when/if you lose your wallet. 2) No prosecutor, NO PROSECUTOR is going to pursue you for photocopying your own ID for backup purposes.

    But what I mainly wanted to say was that I always subscribed to the urban-legend that the static-charge on a xerox machine’s glass platten could de-magnetized your CC’s. A quick google, turns up that MythBusters tried this, and that there is no truth to the demagnetizing rumor.

    [www.savingadvice.com]

  14. I did even better, I not only photocopied my IDs and scanned them into my computer I uploaded them to my to my Photobucket account here in case I ever lose the copies and the jpeg file.

  15. Magicube says:

    What does this mean? Are you kidding me? You’re uploading basically everything that can get your identity thieved to Photobucket?

    Wow. You people just don’t get it. This blog used to have articles about financial service institutions getting hacked, despite “security.” Now networked photocopiers are cool for identity protection?

    Have fun, everyone.

  16. absentmindedjwc says:

    @BayStateDarren:
    That one made me laugh.


    so… let me get this right…. keeping the photocopy in your wallet would be bad.. right?

  17. MKizzle says:

    @BayStateDarren: Nice. I was wondering why someone would do that and point the entire World Wide Web of Internets toward it…

    @Magicube: You should have clicked on the link.

  18. Magicube says:

    Modern photocopiers have disk drives and aren’t necessarily secure:

    “Daniel Katz-Braunschweig, a chief consultant at DataIXL, a business consulting firm, includes digital copiers among his list of data holes corporations should try to protect. He couldn’t specify names but said a few of his company clients did learn about the vulnerability after their copiers were resold and the new owners – in good faith – notified them of the data residing on the disks.”
    [www.signonsandiego.com]

    How is it that I’m writing the Consumerist article as a response to an irresponsible Consumerist article? Did I miss something? Is this April 1?

  19. Magicube says:

    @MKizzle: What link?

  20. @MKizzle: Thought I’d have a little fun with you guys. BTW. sorry about the hand giving the finger up in the corner. Don’t take it personally, it’s another one of my Photoshops in that album and it appears coincidentally.

  21. theblackdog says:

    @BayStateDarren: I will freely admit I clicked it to see if you were that foolish, bravo!

  22. prameta1 says:

    if you’re going to do this, for heaven’s sake, don’t leave your license on the kinko’s photocopier. nearly everytime i’m in a kinko’s or staples business depot copy center there’s a driver’s license that some idiot’s left on the photocopier glass.

    if you’ve got an all-in-one printer at home, use that. most commercial photocopiers keep whatever they copy in their memory in one form or another.

    why take the risk? photocopy your stuff at home.

  23. Michael Belisle says:

    @theblackdog: I was hoping for a fake ID and credit card. Would have brought out even more from the susceptible crowd.

  24. KJones says:

    I carry my cards (license, ID, etc.) in a thin card holder in my front pocket, separate from my wallet which is strictly for cash. A thin folder will fit well in a front pocket, is less likely to fall out, and is comfortable enough to keep in pocket while sitting or bending.

    My rationale is, if I were to get mugged, the robber with go for the cash wallet and probably run when he gets it. He wouldn’t look for ID cards and leave himself vulnerable. And it’s just money, so let him take it as long as I’m not perforated.

  25. KJones says:

    @Death: If you scan it, make the scan accessible online (securely of course) in case you are closer to the internet than your xerox copy.

    Such as a free email account, where mine already is.

  26. Don’t forget to photocopy the backs — that’s where all the phone numbers to call are if something gets stolen. Fat lot of good it does you to have only the fronts photocopied.

    I always update my photocopies right before going abroad; *EXTREMELY* important when going abroad. (I usually leave one copy at home with my spouse or parents, depending on whether he’s traveling with me, and then take one copy with me in a secure place, but a different place from wherever I’m carrying my wallet and passport.)

    And yeah, secure photocopiers or scanners are best — like one you own, or the 20-year-old Xerox machine at the public library, or whatever.

  27. FLJOE says:

    How do you get back on the plane to go home if your wallet is stolen? A copy of your drivers license will not work as ID.

  28. Ragman says:

    Photocopy credit cards? You should already have that info written down somewhere safe, along with your other important numbers, like in a firesafe, safe deposit box, etc. I sat down one day and figured out what info I would need if my house burnt to the ground and all that was left was my firesafe, and put that data in the safe.

    I’d say the greater danger of theft is from some TJMaxx losing your CC number in a theft. At least if your wallet is gone, you know to cancel your cards.

    Some state driver’s licenses have reflective material that DOESN’T show up in a photocopy – Texas for one. That way copies or photoshopped fakes will lack the watermark.

  29. Tankueray says:

    @Michael Belisle: Mmmm….Freebirds FTW!

  30. @FLJOE: I actually have no idea what you do domestically (possibly a police report expedites the process?), but overseas you go to the nearest US embassy or consulate and they have people whose job is nothing but dealing with stolen passports and getting you home/onto the next leg of your trip.

  31. morsteen says:

    so if you get pulled over with your photocopied drivers license before you get your new one they will accept that as legal? hmmmm maybe on the cops best day ever they’d be willing to let that go lol.

  32. Charlotte Rae's Web says:

    @morsteen: morsteen, if you don’t act like an ass to them many cops are reasonable folks to deal with.

    I asked a friend who is a cop and he said if the numbers on the copy matched up in the computer with the person, etc, the person was composed and it was just a traffic issue that he’d worst case right them a ticket that would be voided if they got a physical license and reported to the police station with in a week.

  33. Koebenhavn says:

    Program the “lost card” phone number for your main credit cards into your cellphone.

    If your wallet is lost or stolen, you can cancel your cards immediately.