Lost Wallet? What to Do and How to Prevent Identity Theft

Although I’ve never lost my wallet nor had my identity stolen (knock on wood), it has happened to a very good friend of mine. And when it did, her identity was hijacked and was being used within 3 hours of her purse being stolen! Time is of the essence if your wallet or purse goes missing, and there are a few things you should do right away before even worrying about replacing what you may have lost, which I will get to later in the post. So, without further ado…

First things first – If you had credit cards in your wallet, call the companies and report them as stolen or missing. This will cancel the numbers, and you can tell them you will call back later to get replacements, since you have more to take care of ASAP. If you don’t have the individual phone numbers for each card, you can visit the Help pages for the different credit card companies:

Once you have reported your cards as stolen or missing, you should file a police report at your local police station. This is for two reasons: 1. So if the police get any information about your wallet or purse, they can notify you, and 2. so that you have a letter stating you filed a police report in case you run into any issues with creditors of yours.

What should you do next? File a Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze on your credit file to all three of the credit bureaus. This will let creditors know that something may have happened or is happening to your identity, and they should take steps to verify anything that gets applied for in your name. Here are the numbers of each agency:

  • Experian: Call 1-888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
  • Equifax: Call 1-800-525-6285
  • TransUnion: Call 1-800-680-7289

Once you have set up a credit freeze, you should contact your bank. They will advise you on closing your account, changing account numbers, preserving any auto-bill pays you have in place, getting you a new debit card, etc.. They may also have extra advice for you on what else you can do to help you recover from this incident.

Next up, call your local Department of Motor Vehicles. I know, I know, nobody likes dealing with them. But you need to place an alert on your file that your ID is missing and order yourself a new driver’s license or ID card. Just Google “DMV” and your local office should pop up.

You have now taken care of all the major stuff that most people have in their wallets and purses. But don’t forget all the other items you may have lost as well! This could include your library card, social security card, ID cards for work, a military ID, rewards cards, insurance cards, etc.. These will all need to be replaced as well.

While losing your wallet or having your purse stolen can be traumatic, there are a few things you can do to prepare in advance…just in case:

1. Make copies of the contents of your wallet and keep them somewhere safe.
2. Note the phone numbers/company names for your credit card companies with these copies.
3. Be fully aware of what you are carrying around with you. You don’t need to carry your Social Security card, birth certificate, or every single one of your credit cards.
4. Know your bank account numbers by heart or have them easily accessible.

Being prepared is half the battle!

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Comments (3)

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  1. MFO says:

    All great points. When I my email and facebook were hacked, I instantly signed up for LifeLock, put a credit freeze on my account, cancelled my bank account and set up a new one, and cancelled my credit card (I only had one).

    Sure maybe this was a bit of overkill, but I have been using the same bank account for so many years, I have no idea what the guy could have dug up. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

  2. Andy Hough says:

    Another thing that will reduce the problems caused by a lost wallet is limiting what you keep in your wallet. You shouldn’t keep your social security card in your wallet and you probably don’t need to carry more than one credit card with you either.

  3. Stephan says:

    great tip andy, your ss card should be kept in a safe location at all times. one item that was left out was the cash that you could lose. This is why its really not a good idea to have excessive amounts of cash in your wallet at any time. for mer personally, anything over 100$ makes me uncofmrtable, so i try and keep it below that as often as possible.