In today’s fast paced and often hectic world, it isn’t surprising when something goes missing. For many people, losing their wallet is the worst-case scenario, as it is usually filled with credit cards, identification cards and other personal information. There are steps that you can take to minimize the damage of a lost wallet and to prevent the possibility of someone stealing your identity. Read on to learn what you should do if you lose your wallet so that you can move forward with a minimum of hassle and fuss.
If your wallet is lost, don’t wait to take action. The longer that you hesitate, the greater the chances are that someone will find it and start using your cards or your information.
You can spend some time retracing your steps and looking for it where you last used it — but limit that time to no more than half an hour. After that time, start working on the next steps so that you can minimize the fall-out from a lost wallet.
File a Police Report
Even if your wallet is just lost and not stolen, having a police report can be essential. The police report will list all pertinent information, including how your wallet went missing, when you last had it, and what you had in it. You can then use the report to help you replace the different items in your wallet, such as your driver’s license and credit cards. The police report can also be used in the event that someone finds your wallet and starts using your cards or attempts to steal your identity. It can function as important proof that you didn’t rack up those charges or open those accounts — and can prevent you from being on the hook for fraudulent charges.
Call Your Bank & Credit Card Companies
As soon as you realize that your wallet is lost, start making calls. You should report the missing cards immediately to your credit card companies and bank so that they can cancel the card and issue new ones. They may also be able to place an alert on your account to ensure that no one is using your cards fraudulently or accessing your information. Remember that if someone gets ahold of your cards, they can use them or even sell your information; either scenario can create a huge legal and financial headache for you. Reporting your lost cards as soon as possible can reduce the chances of this happening and can prevent fraud from occurring. Your bank and credit card companies can also issue you new cards so that you can still pay your bills, buy food and conduct other transactions. Getting new cards is critical to getting your life back on track.
Go to the DMV
Spending time at the Department of Motor Vehicles probably ranks pretty low on the list of things that you want to do with your spare time, but if your wallet has been lost, it is a critical step. If someone finds your license, he or she can use it in any number of ways: to open up credit accounts, to rent a car, or to rent an apartment. It can also be sold and then used illegally by an entirely different person. That is why it is incredibly important that you either physically go to the DMV to report your lost card or file a report online or via phone (if it is an option in your state) as soon as possible. Making this report will help protect you against the unauthorized use of your license. You can then use the police report to request a new license.
Call Your Insurance
Health insurance is vitally important to your well-being, which is why you will want to report your lost card immediately. You can get a replacement card so that your prescription and other benefits will carry through, and that you have coverage in the event of an emergency. In addition, reporting your lost cards will protect you from medical identity theft. If someone finds your wallet, they could use your medical insurance cards to get treatment under your name, leaving you stuck with the bill. This is particularly worrisome if the person also found your lost license along with your insurance cards. Avoid this by calling your insurance company as soon as possible after you realize that your wallet is lost.
Set Up Fraud Alerts
In addition to asking your bank or credit card companies to place alerts on your cards, it makes sense to set up a fraud alert with one of the three major credit card bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian). Asking one of these agencies to set up an alert will set one up with all three, and will help stop identity theft and other forms of fraud.
That is because this type of alert won’t just catch unauthorized use of your existing credit cards; it will also flag activity such as requesting new lines of credit (anything from loans to credit cards to utility bills). The alert will last for 90 days, during which time the bureaus will be required to contact you to confirm new accounts that have been opened up in your name or using your information. You should also request a copy of your credit report to check for any suspicious activity.
Losing your wallet can be painful, particularly if you have a lot of cards or rely heavily on your credit or debit cards to pay bills, buy food and more. However, by spending just a little bit of time following these steps, you can get your cards replaced and protect your credit and your identity from fraud.
Author: Jeff Gitlen