This is one of my worst nightmares, losing my wallet. When I reach for it and it’s nowhere to be seen or found, I start to panic and think of all the hoops I have to jump through in order to fix this blunder. If I’m carrying any cash, that’s an even worse sting.
But for me, having to deal with the repercussions of losing all my important documents is the biggest disaster.
Despite it being an infuriating situation, it’s best to try not to panic. By doing so you’ll only be wasting precious moments and you might even forget about crucial steps you should take. Take a deep breath and get started!
1. Contact Your Bank
This is the first of three immediate steps that you have to take in order to protect yourself. As soon as possible, contact your bank either by calling or via mobile or online banking.
You’ll either want to cancel or put an alert on each card, but don’t forget to confirm whether or not there’s any unauthorized activity yet. Don’t forget to also temporarily lock your debit card!
2. Contact the Police
On top of someone using your card for fraudulent purchases, you might also become a victim of identity fraud. That’s one of the reasons why you need to file a police report. Inform them of whatever else was lost or stolen while you’re at it.
Finally, keep a copy of the report for your own records.
3. Contact a Credit Bureau
It’s now time to contact Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion to place a fraud alert on your credit report. You only need to get in touch with one of them as afterward, they will notify the other two on your behalf.
4. Start Replacing Lost Items
While speaking to your bank make sure to request new cards. Once you receive them it’s important to update account information for all automatic payments.
If you had your Social Security and Medicare card in your wallets, you also need to get new copies of those. Careful, there’s a limited amount of replacements for your Social Security you can get in your lifetime!
You’ll also need to replace your driver’s license and vehicle registration, depending on where you live. Contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for this step.
Some people keep a spare key to their homes in their wallets. If anything in your wallet revealed your home address, it’s time to change your locks.
5. Other Companies That Might Be Affected
What other items did you keep in your wallet? If you also lost your employee ID, notify your company’s HR department so they can issue a new one at the earliest convenience. You might also need to get in touch with your car and health insurance companies.
If you have any memberships, now’s the time to give them a call. For example, in case you lost your library card or a health club’s membership card. It’s also a good idea to notify businesses with rewards or point systems. If they also have discount programs, let them know about your mishap.
6. Take Precautionary Measures
While it may seem convenient to keep certain items in your wallet, you’re better off stashing them in a safe place at home. For example, it’s best not to carry your Social Security card with you, spare keys, passwords, checks, credit cards you don’t use often or your birth certificate.
When you’re in a situation like this you might even forget about some of the things in your wallet. That’s normal, especially if there’s stuff in there you haven’t used in a while. Make photocopies of the back and front of all your documents and put them somewhere safe. That way, you’ll always know exactly what you’re missing and what needs replacement.
Finally, you can further protect yourself by putting a GPS tracking device in your wallet. These are often incredibly tiny and they can slip inside unnoticed. Linking them to your phone through an app will reveal your wallet’s location in real-time. This could really help the police in tracking down your wallet if you’re worried it might be in a spot too dangerous for you to reach.
All in all, you have to keep an eye on all your accounts- but that goes without saying. You can monitor your credit card accounts by using websites like AnnualCreditReport.com to see if there have bee any unauthorized activities.