You realized your wallet or your purse went missing, now what? The most common instinct is to panic, but since that won’t help you, it is better to pause for a second and breathe. First of all, be sure that your wallet is no longer with you, that you really lost it. If you found out you lost it or it got stolen, you should take the next steps to avoid potential headaches in the future, such as identity theft.
Call Your Debit Card Company
The first thing you need to do when you realize you lost or somebody stole your wallet is calling your debit card issuer as soon as possible. The reason is that a thief can do a lot of harm to you with your debit card compared with having your credit card, for example. If you report it within two business days, you will be only held responsible for $50, but if you wait longer, you could be held accountable for $500 or more.
Let Your Bank Know Your Credit Card Was Stolen
Even though credit cards offer more protection than debit cards, you must still call your bank or credit union to tell them that your cards are missing. They will immediately cancel your previous credit cards and send you new ones. Keep in mind that you will need to update the payment information for any subscriptions you may have.
File a Police Report
Even though the police might not be able to get your wallet back, it is absolutely essential to file a report anyway. That’s because someone might use your personal documents to commit identity theft. You will also need to present a police report to issue new identity documents. If you actually do end up being a victim of identity theft, it is crucial that you file a complaint at the Federal Trade Commission and fill out an Identity Theft Affidavit.
Place a Fraud Alert in a Credit Bureau
An additional step you can take to be extra careful is by placing a fraud alert in all credit bureaus. That way you will be informed when something suspicious appears in your reports, such as an unauthorized loan application. You will only need to contact one of the three bureaus, and they will notify the other ones for you. You can call them at 1-800-525-6285 for Equifax, 1-888-397-3742 for Experian, and 1-800-680-7289 for TransUnion.
Get a New Driver’s License
If your driver’s license, state ID, or any other identity document was in your wallet, it is very important to go issue new documents as soon as possible at the corresponding authority center. You may need to inform a police report number that states that your ID was stolen in your wallet.
Report Your Stolen Social Security Number
Even though you might already know your social security number by heart, it is crucial to inform the authorities if your SSN card was in your wallet when it was stolen. There are a few steps you will need to take to reduce the risk of identity theft. First, call the IRS Identity Protection Unit (1-800-908-4490), file a statement at the Federal Trade Commission at (1-877-ID-THEFT), and report what happened at the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Change Your Locks
Were your car or house keys with or in your wallet when it got stolen? In that case, you should replace your locks to avoid a break-in, just to be sure. Even if you eventually get it back with all its contents inside, other people might have made a copy of your keys. So you should avoid future headaches.