Your Wallet is Missing, Now What?
It happens to almost all of us at some point,
unfortunately—your wallet, checkbook or purse is either lost or stolen. The key
to mitigating potential damage that may result, which can range from
unauthorized charges to identify theft, is to take immediate action. The
maximum time to wait is 24 hours but sooner is better. It’s also important to
know the contents of your wallet—including all credit cards, health insurance
cards, gift cards, etc. and the contact number provided on the back of each.
Listed below are the steps to take if you ever find yourself in this
Report Your Credit Cards Lost or Stolen
Once you have exhausted the search for your missing
wallet, call each credit card company to report your card lost or stolen. Be
aware that reporting your cards in this manner does not mean they will be
cancelled. In fact, you don’t want them cancelled as this can negatively impact
your credit score. Every card issuer has a set of procedures for handling lost
or stolen cards.
File a Police Report
If you believe you have been the victim of theft,
it is important that you file a police report. While this may seem unnecessary,
it will be extremely helpful if your identity is stolen or someone commits
fraud in your name. The police will provide you with a report and report
number. You do not need to call 911, instead call the main number to your local
police station and you will be directed accordingly. You will also need a new
driver’s license from your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and most
DMVs will ask for a copy of the police report. Please note your new license
will have the same number as your old one.
Call Your Bank
This is especially important if you have a missing
debit card, and your bank will issue you a new one with a new PIN. Unlike
credit cards, debit card providers may require you to cover unreported losses
or related overdraft fees if you do not notify them within two business days.
When you speak with a bank representative, this person may ask for a copy of
your police report. If your checkbook is also missing, your bank can notify
check verification agencies to not accept checks from your account.
Notify the Credit Agencies
One of the most imperative steps is to call the
three major credit card agencies—Equifax (www.equifax.com), TransUnion
(www.transunion.com) and Experian (www.experian.com)—and ask them to put a
fraud alert on your credit report. It’s also a good idea to request a copy of
your credit report within a few months of reporting your cards stolen to check
for fraudulent activities. In an abundance of caution, consumers may “freeze”
their credit to prevent new credit accounts from being opened in their names.
What Not to Carry
Lastly, never regularly carry your social security
card, birth certificate, every credit card you own, spare house key or list of
PIN codes in your wallet or purse. If personal documents such as your social
security card or birth certificate end up in the wrong hands, identify theft
becomes much easier. If you need either of these, carry it on your body and
then immediately replace it in a safe storage location.
While losing your wallet is a huge inconvenience in
the best case situation, it can cause minimal additional problems if the proper
actions are taken immediately.
information is provided with the understanding that the association is not
engaged in rendering specific legal, accounting, or other professional services.
If specific expert assistance is required, the services of a competent,
professional person should be sought.
Provided as a public service by the member banks of
the Community Bankers Association of Oklahoma.