You don’t think it will ever happen to you — and then it does. You have a lost wallet. One minute you’re walking around with your wallet securely in your pocket, and then next, it’s gone. And you didn’t even realize it was missing until it came time for you to pay for something. At first, you might panic. But, instead, stay calm and take these ten steps below right away.
Call Your Debit Card Issuer
Anyone who gets hold of your debit card can do a lot of damage quickly. When you lose your wallet (or if it is stolen), your first step should be to call the credit union or whichever financial institution issued your debit card to you. Let them know you think your card may have been stolen. The financial institution will usually cancel your card right away and issue you a new one with a different account number. They may review any recent purchases listed on your account with you to determine if you made the purchases or if they were fraudulent charges. If your bank or credit union has the ability to freeze your card yourself, do that. It will buy you time until you can either find your wallet, or talk to someone at the financial institution. Money FCU has that ability in our app and online banking.
Contact Your Credit Card Companies
Call your credit card companies to let them know you lost your wallet and your credit cards. You don’t want to close or cancel your credit account with them, as this could affect your credit reports. Instead, request your credit card companies suspend your current cards and issue you new ones. You should always keep a list of what cards are actually in your wallet and their phone numbers as well. This way, you can go down the list without trying to remember what was in there.
Activate Fraud Alerts
Set up fraud alerts as soon as possible once you realize you have a lost wallet or it was stolen. You can do this through the major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
File a Police Report
It’s very important that you file a police report to ensure you’re protected against identity theft. Once you file a police report, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, and you can fill out an Identity Theft Affidavit. This document allows you to prove to businesses and creditors that you were a victim of identity theft.
Report Your Social Security Card Stolen or Lost
While you should never carry your Social Security card in your wallet, if you did have your card in your wallet, you’ll want to be extra vigilant. You can receive a new card through the Social Security Administration, but it will be unlikely that you receive a new number. New numbers are typically provided in extreme cases only. As a result, it’s highly recommended that you enroll in identity theft protection if your Social Security card is stolen.
Check for Unusual Activities on Your Credit Reports
Should you have a lost wallet, you must review your credit report to ensure nobody uses your identity to apply for loans or open new credit lines without you knowing. You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) at www.AnnualCreditReport.com to verify all activity.
List All Contents of Your Lost Wallet
Chances are, like most individuals, you were carrying many different cards in your wallet. While some aren’t that significant, such as punch cards for free gas or coffee, others are, for example, your health insurance cards. Make a list of everything you were carrying in your wallet and begin replacing what you absolutely require. You should really do this ahead of time and keep it up to date.
Freeze Your Credit
When you freeze your credit report, lenders are blocked from accessing your credit report. Should fraudsters attempt to open a loan in your name, the lender will be unable to pull your credit and, likewise, be unable to grant the loan. You can place a freeze on your credit report by contacting each of the three major credit bureaus (www.Equifax.com, www.Experian.com, and www.TransUnion.com). You can remove the freeze whenever you choose.
Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles
If your driver’s license was lost or stolen, you’ll want to obtain a new one by contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles for your state. The requirements for getting a new license vary by state, so be sure to visit your local DMV website to determine what documentation is necessary. If you filed a police report due to your wallet being stolen, bring a copy of the report with you to the DMV.
Consider Taking Out Identity Theft Protection
Even if you’ve canceled your debit and credit cards, you could still be susceptible to fraud. Thieves can steal your identity by using other items in your wallet, such as your driver’s license or health insurance cards. You may want to consider enrolling in identity theft protection and credit monitoring services for a year to ensure you’re safe. In exchange for the monthly fee, you’ll have greater peace of mind knowing your financial accounts and credit score are protected.
We’re Here to Help!
Having a lost wallet is both frustrating and scary and is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If your wallet was recently lost or stolen, please contact the credit union immediately by calling (315) 671-4000 or texting that same number. Our team will walk you through the steps you’ll need to take to avoid potential financial loss and prevent identity theft.
Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact the Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.