Anyone who has ever lost their wallet or purse, or had it stolen, knows that instant spark of panic. Most of us carry around a lot of personally identifiable information which, if it falls in the hands of criminals, could mean identity theft or worse. To avoid disaster and minimize the damage of a lost or stolen wallet, follow the steps below:
Lost Or Stolen Wallet: Which One Is It?
First, be sure to search diligently for your lost wallet. If you cancel all your credit cards only to find it fell out of your pocket in the driveway, you won’t be happy with the mess you created. Retrace your steps from the time you last saw it until now.
- Search locations you may not remember even going.
- Check drawers in case someone else in the house picked it up and tossed it in the desk.
- Call places you visited like stores, theaters, and restaurants to see if they found it.
- Check your pockets in coats, pants, and other clothing.
- Retrace your steps for the past few days. Staying relaxed will help you find it more easily. If you are panicked, you may overlook the very location where you left it.
- Check under beds and with children’s toys. Often curious kids pick things up and walk off with them.
Search everywhere you went for the previous 24 hours. If, after a full day, you still cannot locate your wallet, then take further action.
If you finally reach the conclusion that it is actually stolen, then keep reading for other steps to take.
Contact Your Bank
Go online and check all your credit and bank accounts looking for any unauthorized charges or fraudulent activities. Even if you don’t see any, contact your banks and cancel the credit/debit cards and have them issue you new ones as a precaution. If your personal checking account information was in your wallet, contact that bank and alert them to the issue so they can be on the watch for anything out of place.
You will want to contact your bank immediately so that your funds are not drained. The bank can put an alert on your file and go over all the recent changes with you. If you have a lot of money sitting in your accounts, consider moving it temporarily until the danger has cleared.
What To Do If Your Wallet Is lost?
Cancel Your Credit Cards
Cancel all your credit cards and debit cards and get new ones issued to you. You are more protected by credit cards and unauthorized charges than with debit cards. You may be liable for $50 on each card, but that’s it. You can contact each of the major credit card companies at:
- American Express: 1-800-992-3404.
- Visa: 1-800-847-2911.
- MasterCard: 1-800-627-8372.
- Discover: 1-800-347-2683.
Report the Theft to the Police
An often, overlooked piece of the puzzle is filing a police report. If the police know your wallet was stolen, they may get lucky and recover it for you. Plus, if your identity is stolen, you will have a documented record of the cause and situation. It’s essential to leave a paper trail. When filling out a police report, it helps if you have a complete inventory of what was in your wallet.
Get a Copy Your Credit Report
Set up Fraud Alerts
Since you have no way of knowing if the theft or loss of your wallet will result in identity theft, it is a good idea to set up fraud alerts with each of the credit bureaus. You can contact them below:
When you alert one agency about a fraud alert, they have to contact the other two and update their records.
You may also consider a credit freeze, which prevents anyone from opening up new lines of credit in your name. For that, you will need to contact all three separately.
A fraud alert lets lenders know that you were the victim of fraud, and they should take extra precautions when someone claiming to be you applies for a loan or credit. They must verify your identity thoroughly before moving forward.
File a Report with the FTC
You may also file a report with the FTC. They have a specific form and information for victims of identity theft. They also have consumer resources to help you move past identity theft.
Get a New Driver’s License
If your driver’s license was in with your other valuables, you would need to contact the DMV office in your area and get a new driver’s license. Most states charge a fee of around $50 for a new license. You will have to fill out some forms and possibly stand in line, but you need one to drive legally.
Contact Your Insurance Carriers
If you suffered any losses due to the lost or stolen wallet, you can contact your insurance company, and they may cover it. It is also a good idea to contact your insurance companies for home, auto, dental, and medical and have them issue you new cards with new IDs if these cards were stored in the lost wallet.
Get a New Social Security Number
It is not common for the Social Security Administration to issue new social security numbers. However, in the case of theft or identity theft, they can issue you a new card and number to prevent anyone from trying to steal your identity and open up new accounts or even worse, commit crimes in your name.
Other Odds and Ends If I Lost My Wallet
If your wallet was lost or stolen, there is a good chance it landed in the hands of criminals. You may want to be proactive and change the locks on your doors since they now have your home address.
If you have a lawyer, call them too to give them a heads-up you may be dealing with a case of identity theft. They may also have some tips to ward off the danger.
How To Prevent Identity Theft After Losing Wallet
Now that you have experienced how bad it is losing your wallet, you can prepare for the future.
After getting a new wallet using the tips below to keep it safe and sound:
- Formulate a habit and keep your wallet in the same place at all times. Even if rushed, do not deviate from this routine.
- Make a copy of all the cards and IDs in your wallet so you will know exactly who to contact should you lose it again.
- Store the very minimum of information in your wallet.
- Never keep credit card PINs in your wallet with the cards.
- Do not store your social security card in your wallet.
- Keep a list of the banks and their phone numbers in case you need to report fraud or card theft.
- Consider a stolen wallet app/device to keep tabs on your personal information at all times.
Your wallet, much like your cell phone, carries a lot of your personal identity, and you want to take all the steps you can to keep it safe.