Lost Your Wallet? Here’s What To Do
You’re at the coffee shop about to pay for your croissant and coffee and when you reach into your bag, that familiar square item isn’t in there. PANIC. What do you do?? Well, after you thank the universe that your coffee shop is one of those places that lets you pay by tapping your phone, you rush away and try to remember the last place you used your wallet.
Losing all your cards and identification (and, if you’re really unlucky, cash and gift cards) can be a terrifying thing but it’s important to stay calm and know what to do to replace your items or, in an ideal situation, recover your lost items.
Call Your Credit and Debit Card Issuers
Call all your credit and debit card issuers and let them know you’ve lost your wallet. You can find phone numbers on monthly statements or on the issuer’s website (for LA Financial, call us at 800-894-1200). Once you advise them of the situation, they will provide you with replacement cards that have new account numbers. It’s important that you keep a list of all your auto-pay arrangements, so that you can set them back up with your new card. Otherwise, you’ll get a lot of declined charges in the next month and have to pay late fees. Make it a habit to not carry infrequently used credit cards. There will be less to replace next time.
Open a Police Report
No matter what the circumstances are you should file a report with local ploice. Although it isn’t likely you’ll recover your belongings, it’s an important step in case you become a victim of identity theft. Be sure to keep a copy of the report for future reference.
Contact Credit Reporting Agencies
Call one of the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion) and request a fraud alert be placed on your account. You will only need to call one as they are required to let the other two agencies know when a fraud alert is placed. This alert requires any future creditors to verify your identity before approving new credit requests under your name and social security number, even if you are the one requesting credit.
Request a Credit Report
While you’re thinking about credit, request a credit report from annualcreditreport.com. This is the government mandated free source of credit reports. You are allowed to ask for a report from each agency once a year (3 reports per year, total). Review your report and notice if there is any suspicious activity.
Apply For a New Driver License
Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and request a replacement driver license. The process to reissue a license varies by state. For California, there is a duplicate card fee and you will have to visit an office with your filled out application. You’ll be issued an interim drivers licence valid for 90 days until you receive your new license in the mail.
Did you have your Social Security Card in your wallet?
Even when you need your social security card, on the rare days you’re giving documents for a W-4 or something like that, your card should be in your wallet for that day only and then put back into the safe designated spot in your home. Your social security card number is tied to every account you open, every piece of property, every debt you have — and, it’s a thief’s golden ticket. Once your number is out there in the world, you will have to remain extra vigilant in obtaining regular credit reports to make sure you are not the victim of fraud. If you lost your Social Security card, you can request a replacement from the Social Security Administration. California requires you to make an appointment to request a replacement. But do yourself a huge favor, memorize your Social Security number, and keep your card at home next time.
Finally, make copies of everything you carry in your wallet so you know exactly what you could lost and what you would need to replace. Make sure to keep these copies in a secure location, like a locked drawer or safe. In the US, 16.7 million consumers were victims of identity theft in 2017. Help yourself by making sure your wallet and items have a designated place so you’re less likely to lose anything next time.