Lost or Stolen Wallet: Protecting Your Identity

12 Ways to Ensure Your Safety after a Lost or Stolen Wallet

Losing your wallet or purse is certainly an inconvenience, but it can also create a very dangerous situation. Your finances, identity, and even your personal safety could be at risk.

Here are 12 things you should do if you experience a lost or stolen wallet.

1. Evaluate the Situation

Despite contrary belief there are good people in the world! Maybe someone found your wallet and is waiting for you to claim it.

Before taking drastic action, you should first assess the situation. Did you really lose your wallet? Are you sure someone stole it? Or did you simply misplace it?

Retrace your steps. Carefully check your home, car, and place of employment. Visit or call some of the places you’ve recently been. Perhaps someone found your wallet and is simply holding it until you come claim it.

2. Call the Bank

If you had ATM, credit, or debit cards in your wallet, call the bank right away. The sooner you act, the better. Credit card protection is much greater than debit card security. If you wait more than 2 days to report unauthorized transactions on your debit card, you could be liable for as much as $500 in losses.

It might not be necessary to cancel the cards. Communicate with the bank, explain the situation, and follow your financial institution’s procedures.

Tell your bank if your wallet also contained checks.

3. Set Fraud Alerts and Security Freezes

Find out if a fraud alert or security freeze is necessary to prevent fraudsters from opening new lines of credit in your name.

If savvy crooks obtain enough of your sensitive information, they could open new lines of credit in your name (loans, credit cards, etc.). To prevent this from happening, work with the three major credit reporting agencies to take the appropriate anti-fraud action.

Experian, Equifax and Trans Union offer both a fraud alert or credit (security) freeze. Determine which is most appropriate for your situation and take action immediately.

4. Contact the Authorities

Report the lost or stolen wallet to the local police. An official police report can be used to defend your innocence in cases of fraud.

Before you contact authorities, get organized. The officials will probably ask you to describe:

  • Your recent activity. Where have you been? Where did you last use your last?
  • Your wallet. What does your wallet or purse look like? What color is it? What material is it made of?
  • Any suspects. Do you have any leads on who might have taken your wallet or purse? Have you noticed anything suspicious lately?

Be sure to request a copy of the police report and file it away with all your most important documents.

5. Get a New Driver’s License

Follow the local DMV’s procedure for obtaining a replacement driver’s license. While the online option might be easier, visiting in person could mean you get your new ID much quicker. Also, be prepared to pay a replacement fee.

6. Protect Your Home and Vehicle

Do you keep a spare house key in your wallet? Did your lost or stolen wallet also contain a key to your car?

If you lost this… …do this.
House Key Replace the locks on your home. Even if your wallet was found and returned, the apparent “Good Samaritan” could have made a copy. Combining a house key with the address listed on your ID spells trouble.
Car Key Contact a car dealer, mechanic or parts store. Changing the locks on your car won’t be as easy as updating your home, but it is still something you should look into.

7. Get a New Social Security Number Card

If your Social Security Number card was in your wallet, request a new one. You won’t have to pay for the new card, but you can’t request a new one online. You can, however, obtain the necessary instructions on the Social Security website.

8. Review Your Wallet’s Contents

Jot down all the things that were (or might have been) stored in your wallet. Examples might include membership cards, store discount cards, gift cards, work identification, or medical insurance cards.

9. Reduce Additional Risks and Losses

Get the most obvious chores out of the way first. Then, turn your attention to the seemingly insignificant contents of your wallet. Try to reduce additional risks or losses that might be sustained because other items have gone missing.

See if you can recoup the balance on lost gift cards, make sure your wallet’s thief isn’t picking up your prescriptions, and ensure you won’t have to pay someone else’s library fines!

10. Order Credit Reports

Consumers are granted one free credit report (from each of the three reporting agencies) one time per year. Get your free copies and keep an eye out for unusual activity.

11. Reactivate Recurring Payments

If you needed to obtain new credit card numbers as a result of your lost or stolen wallet, be sure to contact all the merchants who currently offer recurring payments. If you don’t update your card information, the recurring transactions will be declined, your bills will be marked past due, you might pay extra fees, and your services could be discontinued.

12. Get Ready for Next Time

Believe it or not, lightning can strike the same place twice. Just because you’ve had your wallet stolen once doesn’t mean it can’t happen again. Be prepared!

  • Don’t carry all your payment cards in your wallet. Carry one, maybe Leave everything else at home.
  • Don’t carry your Social Security Number card with you. Memorize the number and leave the actual card at home.
  • Don’t carry your ATM or debit card PIN in your wallet. Memorize it!
  • Don’t keep other sensitive information (phone numbers, passwords) in your wallet.
  • Don’t carry a ton of cash.

Make a photocopy of (or scan) all the contents of your wallet. This will help you determine who to contact if your wallet is stolen or lost again.

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Are You a Victim?

Despite your best efforts to protect your identity and ensure financial safety, fraud can still happen. If you need help, let us know.

Unfortunately, it is entirely possible that credit card fraud and identity theft can happen despite your best efforts. If you notice unauthorized transactions on your credit or debit card statement, contact eConsumer Services® right away.

We can help secure a refund for any purchases you didn’t authorize and ensure your money is returned as soon as possible. Fill out the form to the right and we’ll get started on your case right away.