What should you do if your wallet is lost or stolen – what should you do and who should you call? This is that gut-wrenching question that most of us have experienced at least once, but what’s even harder is trying to figure out what to do once you realize your wallet is lost or stolen.
Video: What to Do If Your Wallet is Lost or Stolen
Top 12 “What to Do If Your Wallet is Lost or Stolen” Tips and Resources
Once you realize your wallet is gone and not hiding, here are some steps that you must take quickly once your wallet is missing, lost, or stolen:
- File a lost or stolen police report to make an official record of your wallet being lost or stolen. The police will need to know where the wallet was lost or stolen (or best guess) when it was lost or stolen, what you think happened, and what was in the wallet. File a report with local police even if the theft occurs in a foreign country. If you have trouble getting a report, you may be able to obtain one from a state of federal law enforcement agency or the U.S. Postal Inspector, if the crime involved fraudulent use of the mail. Click here to go to the Federal Trade Commission for more details.
- If your ATM/debit card was in your wallet, call your bank and tell them the card was lost or stolen, as you’ll definitely need to cancel the card and get a new one. Depending on your bank,youmay be able to get a new one or at least a temporary card from your bank the same day. If you have any of your cards or accounts linked up to auto payments or direct deposit, you’ll need to contact those accounts too. Some banking institutions make this a very easy process, and then some are harder. If you report the loss before someone uses your ATM/debit card, you have zero liability – but your liability increases in other instances. Generally, if you report your cards stolen to your credit card company within two days, your liability is $50; between two and 60 days, your liability is $500, andafter60daysyourliabilityis unlimited – but check with your bank before this happens, and make sure you read the fine print.
- Call your credit card issuers, as they will also need to cancel your credit cards and issue new ones. They’ll also ask you about recent transactions. Under federal credit rules, if you report the loss before your card is used fraudulently, you are not liable; if not, your liability is limited to $50.If your checkbook disappears, you’ll need to close that account to as well as reconfigure any direct deposits and auto-payments you’ve arranged on your checking account. Make sure your bank alerts the check verification companies to prevent someone using your checks.
- Start a “My Wallet Was Stolen Phone Call Log” and list the date, time and people you talk to. This could be very important if problems arise later on.
- Call the three major credit reporting bureaus and ask to put a fraud alert on your file, to prevent identity theft in the future. All individuals have the right to place an initial 90 day fraud alert on their credit file for free – which you can extend every 90 days up to seven years. Fraud Alerts are like ‘red flags’ for anyone looking at your credit file. They signal to credit grantors that you may have been a victim of suspicious activity. Fraud Alerts alert creditors to take extra steps to verify the legitimacy of a request for new credit, extension of credit on an existing account, or issuance of an additional card on an existing account. Here is a link to “placing a fraud alert with Equifax.” You might want to read up more on understanding about fraud alerts and well as how they are different from “security freezes” which are the next level to take, read more about the differences here. Here is another link to this information from TransUnion.
- For those who need additional protection due to active fraud or identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission has an in-depth article about credit freezes which can be found here. If your Social Security card was in your wallet (and it should never be) you will have to call your local Social Security Administration office. Once you fill out their SS-5 Form and present documentation, they will replace the card for free, but the card will have the same number as the original.
- In regards to your driver’s license, contact your state agency that issued it to let them know it’s been lost/stolen, then request a replacement. If you later discover someone has been using your license illegally you can ask to have your license number changed – depending on your state. If you have other forms of identification in your wallet, like a military ID, be sure to also contact those issuing agencies to report them missing as well.
- Fill out an Identity Theft Form. The Federal Trade Commission has developed an identity theft affidavit that you can send businesses and creditors when a new account is opened in your name, to help document that a thief used your personal information to open the account. It’s a kind of summary of what’s happened to you.
- Make your life easier next time: Only carry the cards that you need, and never keep your Social Security card or your PIN numbers in your wallet. Keep your other cards in a safe place. Also, write down your credit card numbers and customer service telephone numbers on a piece of paper you’ll keep in a safe place. That way, if this happens again, you can quickly and easily report the missing cards to the card issuers.
- Call the Identity Theft Resource Center for free, no cost identity theft and lost wallet assistance – see below. for more information.
- Order your free credit reports – see below.
Call For Free, No Cost Identity Theft Assistance – Identity Theft Resource Center
A great free resource for victims of identity theft or if your wallet is lost or stolen is the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). Established in 1999, the ITRC’s mission is to provide best-in-class victim assistance, at no-charge, to consumers throughout the United States, and to educate consumers, corporations, government agencies, and other organizations on best practices for fraud and identity theft detection, reduction and mitigation. A non-profit identity theft counseling resource, they will never ask for money or try to sell you anything.
The ITRC’s services are paid for by Federal grants and corporate donations. This is an outstanding resource and one that every victim of identity theft or who experiences a lost or stolen wallet should call. The ITRC is open 24/7, and their expert advisors are trained to provide you with one-on-one assistance for all types of identity theft issues, as well as what to do when your wallet is lost or stolen. They will furnish you with advice tailored to your specific issue, a step-by-step plan, and the necessary documents and letters you will need to implement an identity theft recovery plan, as well as to help you with steps you can take to minimize your risk of becoming re-victimized in the future. Call 888 400-5530. Their website is http://www.idtheftcenter.org/
When Your Wallet is Lost or Stolen, Order Your Free Credit Reports
When your wallet is lost or stolen, make sure you order your FREE credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. Federal law entitles you to one free report from each of the three bureaus every 12 months through www.annualcreditreport.com – the official site created under the auspices of the Federal Trade Commission. And be sure to regularly review your bank and credit card statements. What most people do is order one report every three months from each of credit bureau, as they are only required to provide you one each year, per bureau.
Phone Numbers for the Three Credit Bureaus
- Equifax: (800) 525-6285 or www.equifax.com
- Experian: (888) 397-3742 or www.experian.com
- TransUnion: (800) 680-7289 or www.transunion.com
Wallet Recovery Guide – What to Do When Your Wallet is Lost or Stolen
The below is an interactive wallet recovery guide which is designed to help you organize what to do and who to call when your wallet is stolen or lost and is put out by CreditCards.com. The wallet recovery guide contains the tools that you need to minimize the damage when your wallet is lost or stolen, as well as the tools to help recover quickly to help keep your identity and your money as safe as possible. The interactive wallet recovery kit focuses on the three “Rs”:
- Remove: We’ll tell you the things that you should never carry in your wallet.
- Record: We’ll lay out what information you need to write down and store away now.
- Recover: We’ll tell you who to contact after your wallet goes missing — and what to say when you speak with them.
The Wallet Recovery Guide will provide you a set of documents you can print out and store in a secure place. If the worst should happen, you’ll have what you need to immediately stop the damage and start the recovery process if your wallet is lost or stolen. Information typed into the wallet recovery guide is not captured or tracked in any way, because the sensitive information you’ll enter never leaves your computer. You’ll download helpful wallet recovery forms, fill them in and save them to your own computer. If you have concerns, you can just print out any of the blank forms and fill them out offline instead.
Video of Wallet Recovery Plan
The following is a video of the Wallet Recovery Plan which will give you a tour through the wallet recovery guide.
Additional Lost or Stolen Wallet Resources
- Identity Theft Resource Center: Offers free no cost assistance for those who fall victim to identity theft.
- Identity Theft – My Wallet Was Stolen – Now What?
- Privacy Rights Clearing House
- Federal Trade Commission