You reach for your purse and it’s not there.
You pat your back pocket and discover your wallet is missing.
Suddenly you feel nauseous. Your mind starts to race thinking of everything that’s missing… my credit cards, my driver’s license, my health insurance cards, you think.
First things first, stay calm. Take a deep breath. Here are the first seven steps you should take when you lose your wallet or what to do if your wallet is stolen.
Once you’re certain you haven’t just misplaced your wallet or purse — check the couch, call the restaurant you ate at last night, look in the car — and that it is indeed truly gone, then it’s time to get to work. If you’re wondering what to do when your purse is stolen, we’ve mapped it out for you here. (And if you haven’t lost it and want to save yourself some heartache down the line, check out our blog about “Six Things You Should Never Carry in Your Wallet or Purse”).
What to do when your wallet is stolen or lost/What to do when your purse is stolen
- Report your cards as lost or stolen.
Call your bank immediately and have your debit card suspended and an alert put on your account. Do you have a health savings account — and corresponding debit card — with a credit union? Don’t forget to call them as well.
Make sure you ask them to send you new cards — with new account numbers, of course — as soon as possible. If you’re out of town traveling, be sure and ask to have the cards arrive when you’re set to arrive home. You don’t want to have new cards sitting in a mailbox where they can be stolen while you’re away.
- Initiate a credit freeze with the major credit reporting agencies.
You need to call each credit reporting company or go online to the websites to initiate a freeze. There are three major credit reporting companies and a smaller, new bureau called Innovis. Visit our blogpost about how to freeze your credit for each agency’s automated phone numbers as well as the direct line you can call to speak with an associate, which will hopefully save you time (and exposure to canned hold music!).
- Report the loss or theft to your local police department.
Now let’s be honest, we’re not suggesting this because we actually think the local detective is going to try to track down your wallet, even if it was stolen. Rather this is a crucial step because you’ll need to have the police report ready if you become an identity theft victim. Be ready to answer a few questions — like where and when you think you lost your wallet, exactly what was in it, what it looks like, etc. BE SURE and keep a copy of this report for your records.
- Visit the DMV to report the missing Driver’s License and get a new one reissued.
Your Driver’s License can easily be used for identity theft and fraud so it’s imperative you report the loss to the DMV and then follow whatever process your state has in place to have another license reissued.
- Sign up for LibertyID.
If you’re not already covered by LibertyID, now would be a really good time to have it. When your wallet has been lost or stolen, your identity has been compromised, which leaves you at much greater risk of identity theft. According to recent statistics, the average identity theft victim spends upwards of 200 hours repairing the damage. That’s where LibertyID can help. Our subscribers save themselves massive amounts of time and stress by having our service to rely on when something does happen. If your identity is stolen, we assign you a personal recovery advocate who will clean up the mess and restore your identity to pre-event status.
Sign up for an annual subscription now and rest easy knowing you’re covered by LibertyID.
- If your wallet or purse contained your house keys, change the locks.
If you lost your keys along with identification that includes your home address, don’t think twice — change your locks. That’s because even if your lost wallet or purse was turned in seemingly intact, you should still change the locks to your home because anyone could have made copies — or even simply taken photos of your keys from which to easily have copies made.
As security consultant and lock picking guru Jos Weyers told Wired.com for this fascinating story, “If you lose sight of your keys for the better part of 20 seconds, you should consider them lost. If you find them later, consider them a souvenir.”
The story details how new cell phone apps like KeyMe can be used for nefarious purposes. The valet you gave your keys to, the housecleaner alone with your house keys for a few minutes, even someone you considered a friend could use the app to photograph your keys and then upload the photos and have copies sent by mail or cut at kiosks located around the country and ready for nearly immediate pick up.
- Inform the authorities if your Social Security card is missing.
First, you should never carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Instead, you should keep it in a safe, secure place in your home, like a fire-proof safe, for instance.
If your Social Security card was in your lost or stolen wallet or purse, then be sure to report the loss immediately to the Social Security Administration. But beware, they won’t issue a new number, just a new card. That means that calling them certainly won’t reduce your risk of being a victim of identity theft or fraud. That being said, there are a few other places you should be sure and notify of the loss. Read ”What To Do If You Lose Your Social Security Card” for more information.
Are you covered for identity theft?