It's a bad idea to keep your Social Security card in your wallet (despite the fact that the card says you should), but it used to be common practice. In 1938, before identity theft was the problem it is today, a wallet manufacturer wanted to show potential buyers how well their Social Security cards would fit in their wallets, so they put fake ones in the ones they sold (similar to cardboard "credit cards" you may see in wallets today).
The cards in the wallets were fake, but the number on them wasn't. Douglas Patterson, vice president and treasurer of the E.H. Ferree Co., thought it would be "clever" to use his secretary's Social Security number on the cards, according to a post on the Social Security Administration's history page. The secretary, Hilda Schrader Whitcher, eventually had to be issued a new number, because so many people thought the number in their wallets belonged to them. Read more...
The weird and true story of America's most popular Social Security number
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