| I count my wallet as one of my most prized possessions. My entire life is contained in my wallet, literally. I store everything in it from photo IDís, credit cards, money, grandchildren pictures. In my instance, fortunately it was just missed laid. But, it got me to thinking about all the things that are in my wallet and just what would happen if it was truly lost or stolen.|
Of course my first reaction was pure panic. Calm yourself and retrace your steps, as I did. But, if it is truly missing here are some steps to follow.
File a police report: Establishing a record of your missing wallet is imperative. The police report will include details of where and how it went missing. The police report may be requested when replacing items such as your Driverís License, credit cards, etc.
Call your credit card companies and banks to report your cards missing: One of the first things a thief will do with a stolen wallet is try to use your credit/debit cards or sell your information. The sooner you can report the cards missing, the sooner your card issuer can cancel and issue a new one. Since many people use their credit or debit cards over cash, you probably want a new card sooner rather than later to ensure your life gets back on track as quickly as possible.
Contact the DMV to report a stolen driverís license: A thief can do a lot of damage with your government issued photo ID. From unpaid car rentals or even theft. If your license is used by someone during these acts then it is you who will be held responsible. By reporting your lost ID there will be a record of it if any misuse occurs. This will make it much easier to contest unpaid bills or legal charges wrongly filed against you.
Notify your insurance company about a lost benefits card: Medical identity theft is a big deal. A criminal with your insurance benefits card can potentially use it in conjunction with your driverís license to take advantage of your insurance benefits. Some insurance companies will allow you to print a temporary ID card while you wait for a replacement to arrive by mail so you wonít be without your benefits in case of a medical emergency.
Place a fraud alert on your credit files: Contact one of the three major credit bureaus Ė Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to place a fraud alert on your credit files with them. You only need to contact a single bureau because they are legally required to set it with the other two once the alert has been requested. Each fraud alert last 90 days and helps prevent identity theft because it requires the bureaus to contact you to confirm any new accounts opened in your name. You might also request a copy of your credit reports to determine whether or not any suspicious activity has been happening in your name.
Cancel any other important cards or documents that were in the wallet: If you kept rewards cards from your favorite retailers and restaurants, you will want to make sure any points you have received donít get spent by someone else. It might just be easier to get a new rewards card. Something like hotel rewards account where you have accumulated serious points worth a high monetary value, you will definitely want to report the loss and get a replacement card.
Hopefully, this occurrence never happens to you. There are precautions you can take so if you do lose your wallet, it wonít be as big a disaster as you might imagine. Never leave your social security card in your wallet: Your social security card is one of the most valuable personal documents you own. It should always be stored somewhere safe and secure.
Avoid carrying large sums of cash: Although it might be a pain to cancel your credit or debit cards and deal with getting charges reversed and funds returned, any money spent by criminals with cards can be returned. The same is not true for cash.
Sign up for an identity theft protection service: There is a lot of work involved when you lose your wallet. Contacting company after company to report cards missing and requesting new ones takes time and effort. Most plans have some form of lost wallet protection, which includes assistance with card cancellation and replacement as well as the ability to store the information for all the cards in your wallet online so you donít have to try and remember them off the top of your head. These services can also help with placing fraud alerts and provide updated credit reports and scores so you can keep an eye on whatís happening with your credit file.
Identity theft lurks around many corners in our lives. The above are just reminders of keeping our identity safe and secure.