You’ve lost your wallet. Your whole life is in that purse. You’ve looked everywhere, called the businesses you recently visited and asked your friends to check their cars or houses. It’s nowhere to be found. Now what?
Losing your wallet or purse is one of the most inconvenient things that can happen. Time is of the essence when it comes to protecting your bank account and identity from malicious fraud. The maximum time you should wait to act is 24 hours. Some companies even have deadlines for reporting lost cards.
Listed below are several key steps to take if you find yourself in this predicament. As long as you do all of these things, the order in which you do them isn’t important. Also, the following six items should never be regularly kept in your wallet.
- Social Security card
- Birth Certificate
- Every single credit card you own
- Spare house keys
- Your Personal Identification Numbers (PINs)
File a police report. As soon as you’ve given up finding your wallet, assume that someone has it and is not going to return it. Calling the police might seem like an unnecessary step, but it is essential for fraud prevention. Please, do not call 911 in this situation. The police will give you a report with a report number, which is very important if you become a victim of identity theft or fraud. You need a real record of the event, rather than trying to explain to creditors later, why you didn’t report the loss.
You will also need a new driver’s license, as most Department of Motor Vehicles will ask for a copy of the police report. The DMV will issue you a new driver’s license, which will have the same number as the old one.
Call your bank. Provide your bank with a copy of the police report. If you have a debit card, report it stolen and get the bank to issue you a new one.
Call your credit card companies and report your cards lost or stolen. You may be told to cancel your cards, however, that is not necessary. Canceling your cards may cause other headaches and mess-up your credit score. Every card issuer has a set of procedures for handling lost or stolen cards, and if you report it as such, you won’t have as many difficulties as you would if canceling them..
Notify the three major credit agencies. Call the three agencies—Equifax, TransUnion and Experian—and ask them to put a fraud alert on your credit report. Get a copy of your credit reports to check for fraudulent activities a month or two after you’ve reported your cards stolen.
Lastly, a preventative step that will help immensely if your wallet or purse is lost, is to scan or photocopy, everything in your wallet (front and back). Keep these scans stored in a protected folder on your computer, or your photocopied items in a safe place. This includes not only your driver’s license and credit cards, but also health insurance cards and gift cards. The goal is to have a backup so you know instantly what is missing and the numbers to call to begin to remedy the situation.