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What to do if your Wallet is Lost or Stolen
I’m sure this has happened to everyone at some point or another. You reach for your wallet, in the place it ALWAYS is, just to find it’s no longer there. What about when you set your purse down and walk off without it? You begin to panic, trying to remember where you last had it. How could you lose such an important part of your day?! What on Earth are you going to do and where do you even begin? Keep reading and I’ll help you answer that very question.
Maybe you left it in your car overnight because you forgot all about it. Then someone comes by and breaks into your car to find it sitting in the glove box, right where you left it. Regardless of how your wallet or purse has disappeared, the steps are relatively the same and the question of “what to do I do next” will come up.
Is Losing Your Wallet or Purse Really a Big Deal?
IT IS a big deal when your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, no matter how you slice it. Most people keep a lot of important information inside of them. Information they use everyday to identify themselves to others or information to pay for items they need or want. If your wallet falls into the wrong hands, someone can have access to all of these things and more!
Here are 11 things you need to make sure you handle AS SOON as you realize your wallet or purse is missing. Be sure to also keep a list of what you have in your wallet or purse so you can accurately determine what you lost. This list does not have to be followed in order but you will want to make sure that you follow through with checking off each one of these items when you lose your wallet or purse.
1. Determine if your wallet is lost, stolen, or misplaced
Lets take a deep breath and calm down so we can make these important decisions with a clear head. This may seem trivial but I promise it is very important to determine which one of these your missing wallet falls under. If your car is broken into then it’s pretty obvious as to how you’ve lost your wallet. If you just all of a sudden realize your wallet is gone, that could be a little less obvious.
Try to remember the last place you had your wallet or where you last used it. Did you leave it at the register of a store? Did it fall out while you were in your car? Answering these questions before proceeding can save you a lot of a headach and trouble. If you start calling around to notify your banks and such then find it later, you’ll have put yourself through all that trouble for nothing.
2. Don’t “CANCEL” your credit cards – report them as lost/stolen
I hear a lot of people tell others that when you lose your credit cards, “you need to cancel them”. While this isn’t completley true, I assume they mean what I’m about to tell you. For every credit or debit card you have, there is a number or website you can go to when your cards are stolen or lost.
When you report your cards lost or stolen, the bank cancels those card numbers so they can no longer be used. (You will want to be sure you notify them immediatly to help prevent you from being liable for any unauthorized purchases.) When they cancel the card numbers, it doesn’t close out your account or cancel your credit cards. It just means they reassign you a new card with a new card number.
This could take some time to come in the mail so be prepared to be without your cards for a little while. You may be able to go to your bank and withdrawl some cash if you need something to hold you over in the meantime. Now, remember the part about changing your card numbers. It’s going to be important for this next step.
3. Automatic debits and credits linked to your cards need to be updated
When you contact your bank to get a new credit or debit card, they will make the old card numbers useless. This can cause you to miss payments if you aren’t careful. I have quite a few payments that I make every month. To make things easier on me, and to make sure I don’t forget about them, I have those monthly payments autodrafted. This means they will be taken out of my account every month automatically.
As convenient as this is for your average month, when you lose your cards, this could be a problem. Most of the time you setup these accounts to autodraft by using your credit or debit card information. When your bank changes your card, this also applies when your card expires, those autodrafts wont be able to go through unless you update them with the new card information.
4. Put out a fraud alert to the three credit agencies
If your ID and/or Social Security Card are lost or stolen with your wallet, then you will want to be sure to notify one of the three credit reporting agencies with their number listed below. Only one will have to be contacted because they are required to notify the other two.
You will want to do notify them incase someone gets ahold of your identity and tries to use it. This will make place an initial fraud alert on your credit lasting 90 days. You can renew your fraud alerts each quarter if you feel the need to. This makes it harder for someone to open new credit accounts.
• Equifax – 888-766-0008
• TransUnion – 888-909-8872
• Experian – 888-397-3742
5. Report the loss or theft to your local authorities
If your car or house is broken into and your wallet is stolen, this is a no brainer. If you just lose your wallet you will still want to report the loss to the police. This not only allows them the opportunity to help find it but it provides you with a paper trail.
The paper trail will be needed if your credit and debit cards get used or if your identity gets stolen. If someone starts using your cards immediately, your bank will more than likely ask for a report number to show where and when you told the police your stuff was missing.
6. Contact the DMV to get a new ID and report yours lost
If your ID or driver’s license gets lost or stolen, you will need to go get a new one. When you go to get your new driver’s license, you may want to see what your state DMV requires you to bring when renewing a lost ID.
In my state, if you need to renew a license, you’ll need to bring your social security card. You will also need to bring two of the following; birth certificate, U.S. passport, or military picture ID.
7. Change the locks on your doors if your keys were taken
This is something a lot of people, I’ve talked to, don’t even think about. If your keys are stolen then everything they unlock is at risk. Especially if they steal your house keys AND your ID with your address on it.
You could come home to an empty house because they took everything. It wouldn’t be the first time that something like that has happened and it sure won’t be the last. It can be very inconvenient to have to change all of the locks to your house, but it sure beats having all your stuff stolen.
8. File a report for your missing social security card
Let me start this one off by saying, you shouldn’t be keeping your social security card in your wallet! If you need it for the day to go take care of something, then that makes sense. Otherwise leave it in a fireproof lockbox at home.
If it does get stolen though, you will want to contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or http://www.ssa.gov to order another one. You will also want to report it to the Federal Trade Commission, the number for them is also listed below.
The FTA collects information that can lead to an investigation and to prosecution. You’ll also want to contact the IRS incase someone attempts to use your identity to gain employment. This could cause a huge tax nightmare for you so be sure to stay on top of your information. The number for the IRS is also listed below.
FTC – 1-877-438-4338
IRS – 1-800-908-4490
9. List everything else that may have been in your wallet
If you’re like me, you keep just about everything in your wallet. It’s not safe, plus the more you add to it, the bigger and bulkier it’ll be. Before everything gets stolen would be the ideal time to list what you keep in it but we all know that isn’t how it always works.
Making a list of everything that is in your wallet can help the police locate your property and it can also help make sure you are able to accurately remember what was inside. This can be helpful if you do need to start freezing accounts and credit.
10. Keep an eye on your credit report
If your personal information was stolen, you will want to keep an eye on your credit report for any suspicious activity. Even after you have implemented all of these steps, you still could be at risk of someone using your identity.
You’re allowed 1 free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every year. I would take advantage of this but I would still, for the first year, ask to receive a credit report once a month. If you do notice your a victim of identity theft, be sure to have the police report you made handy so you can show your paper trail of the theft.
11. Contact your healthcare provider about your health insurance card
Here is one that I never even thought about. If your health insurance card is lost or stolen, you will want to report it to your health insurance company. Someone who has this card could possibly use it to seek medical attention at your expense.
When you contact them to tell them about the stolen or lost card, they will change the card number and send you a new one. Receiving this new insurance card could take a few weeks. If you need to go to the hospital during that time, you will want to be sure you let the hospital staff know of your situation.
You will probably have to have the hospital contact the insurance company directly and have the speak to a live person. From what I’ve learned, when the insurance company changes your card, their computer system does not recognize the change right away and it has no way of finding out your information and giving it to the hospital.
This is where speaking to a live person can help. A real person can easily search up the information about you and relay it to the hospital. Hopefully you don’t have to go but if you do, good luck with it!
So there you have 11 things you need to take care of when your wallet is lost or stolen. It can be a really big pain trying to figure out what all needs to be done. Hopefully this guide can help rid you of some of that stress and castle.