A missing wallet is inconvenient, and it can also lead to identity theft. Credit cards, identification cards, Social Security cards and more are all invitations to identity theft when a missing wallet scenario occurs. Here’s what to do when you lose your wallet.
Stolen or misplaced?
Retrace your steps and don’t panic. Sometimes, a lost wallet can be found quickly with no damage to your finances, credit or identity. Call places you’ve been recently, such as stores and restaurants and ask whether they have lost and found items. Often, people will turn in such things as lost wallets.
Cover your financial bases
If you’re sure you won’t recover the wallet – regardless of whether it is lost or stolen – your immediate financial concerns should come first. Call your card issuers within a day or two to report any cards and lost checks as lost or stolen. Don’t immediately cancel them, as that will damage your credit score. Generally speaking, card companies can place a temporary hold until new cards can be issued. In the event of incentives like frequent flier miles on a credit card or a promotional APR, double-check with the issuer to ensure that these will be properly transferred to your new card.
Have the card issuer check for fraudulent activity
In the event of a stolen card, the thief will likely attempt to use your credit or debit card for purchases. Inform your bank of roughly where and when cards were lost, so that any fraudulent activity can be expunged from your credit report. Typically, card issuers contact the major credit reporting agencies regarding such issues, so that you, the victim, aren’t left out in the cold.
Notify the authorities
While the police won’t be putting a task force on the case of your lost wallet, if law enforcement does have your information on file, battling uglier cases of identity theft can be easier. Plus, in the event of a potential stalker, police protection becomes even more important. Just make sure you keep a copy of the police report because you may need it to get a new driver’s license.
Get a new driver’s license
Once the hot-button financial issues are under control, look at other things like your driver’s license. The sooner you deal with the lost driver’s license problem, the sooner you’ll have a replacement and not have to deal with an embarrassing situation.
Also on the identity front, deal with a missing Social Security card at this point. Contact the following organizations:
- IRS Identity Protection Unit at (800) 908-4490
- Federal Trade Commission at (877) ID-THEFT
- Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov
Missing keys? Change the locks for safety
If you’re dealing with a thief who has your identification card or driver’s license, you’ll want to change the locks at home. This is true regardless of whether your keys are lost or stolen. It’s simply a good idea to be safe in this regard. Any hardware store can help. Missing car keys are more difficult to deal with. Consult with your dealership.
Picking up the remaining pieces
If you lost store membership cards or insurance cards, report them lost and order replacements. With membership cards, make sure to double-check that any accumulated benefit points transfer. After the dust begins to settle – and no identity theft is at stake – order your credit report in order to double-check for damages and fraud. Finally, buy a new wallet that can accommodate all the cards and other inserts you require.