Anybody who’s lost a wallet, or had one stolen, knows how stress-inducing the experience is, not to mention the pain in the neck that results from having to replace its contents. The fact is that a lost wallet could result in a criminal wreaking havoc on your credit by accessing your accounts, making fraudulent charges, and using your personal information to create a synthetic identity to open new accounts.
Take a minute to examine the contents of your wallet. Make a list of everything inside. How many bank cards and credit cards do you carry? Passwords or pins scribbled on scrap pieces of paper? Family pictures? Maybe a house or safety deposit key? How about your social security card? Anything else you wouldn’t falling into the wrong hands?
Now’s a good time to take a few minutes to review some lost wallet protection tips that will preserve your peace of mind should your wallet or purse be lost or stolen.
Lost Wallet Tips
- Police Report: File a detailed police report with your local authorities to document the loss.
- Banks: Call your bank(s) so that they can can take the necessary measures to protect you.
- Cards: Report all credit, debit, and ATM cards as lost, or stolen, and request to have them reissued with new account numbers and pins.
- Credit Reports: Contact the three credit bureaus: Equifax 800-525-6285, Experian 888-397-3742, and Transunion 800-680-7289. Request copies of your credit report so that you can review them for fraudulent activity.
- Fraud Alerts: Request that the three credit bureaus place a fraud alert on your file, requiring creditors to verify your identity before issuing new credit.
- IRS: If you lost your social security card, contact the IRS Identity Protection Unit at (800) 908-4490 to report the loss and to request a replacement.
- RMV: Report your loss to the Registry of Motor Vehicles so they can reissue you a new driver’s license.
- Medical Insurance: Contact your medical insurance carriers to make sure that your medical benefits are not being used by an identity thief, which could not only result in fraudulent medical bills, but also altered medical records.
- Locks: If you had a house key in your wallet, change your locks.
If You Haven’t Lost Your Wallet …
- Limit the number of bank cards and credit cards that you carry. If possible, limit to one.
- Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet. Ever.
- Don’t carry family pictures.
- Make copies of everything in your wallet and keep those copies in a safe place.
- Subscribe to a service such as Lost Wallet Assistance that quickly provides you with the information you need to cancel and replace your credit, debit and ATM cards.
If you’re a person who’s in the habit of keeping everything in your wallet or purse, now’s a good time to reevaluate. Don’t allow a lost wallet or purse to rob you of your peace of mind. Protect your family by paying careful attention to what you carry with you.