Have you ever had that sinking sensation when you grab for your wallet in your jeans or handbag and it's gone? You're not alone. According to an exclusive MoneyTips survey, 62% of respondents have had their wallets stolen or misplaced. More than one-third had experienced both wallet loss and theft, and 36% of those who admitted misplacing their wallet did so repeatedly!
Be ready to lose your wallet
Some proactive actions can help prevent a bad situation from becoming worse before your wallet was stolen
- Keep your contact information in your wallet—well-meaning people who find it can’t return your possessions if they don’t know how to reach you.
- Record everything in your wallet, including license and credit card numbers (but don't keep the information in your wallet!).
- Use AirTag Wallet
Keep the following items out of your wallet:
- Your social security card or a set of passwords, which might allow thieves to easily compromise your identity.
- More than two credit cards—this will increase your workload if you lose your wallet.
- A house key, since your address is on your license and can be discoverable online.
1. Call Your Credit And Debit Card Companies
Just do that immediately. Inform them that you have lost or stolen your wallet so that they can cancel the card and provide you a new one. Begin with your debit card, as your amount of culpability is determined by how promptly you report the event. If you report a credit card loss before the card is used, you will not be held liable for any charges you did not approve.
It's critical to act quickly: If you report your debit card stolen within two business days, you'll only be charged for a maximum of $50 in fraudulent purchases. The majority of banks will not even charge you that.
Here are some of these numbers for some of the bigger banks:
- Bank of America: 1-800-432-1000
- Chase: 1-800-935-9935
- Citibank: 1-800-950-5114
- Wells Fargo: 1-800-869-3557
- TD Bank: 1-888-751-9000
- US Bank: 1-800-285-8585
- PNC Bank: 1-888-762-2265
Need to call your credit card company? Here are the numbers of the four biggest of them:
- American Express: 1-800-992-3404
- Visa: 1-800-847-2911
- MasterCard: 1-800-627-8372
- Discover: 1-800-347-2683
2. Set Up A Fraud Alert
Thieves can use your information to create new credit card accounts or loans; activating a fraud alert with the credit bureaus requires lenders and creditors to take further steps to verify your identity. You just need to call one of the three main credit bureaus, and the other two will be notified. Check your credit report for fraudulent activity at least once a year.
Here are the numbers of the three credit bureaus:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
3. File A Police Report
When you've misplaced your wallet, filing a report with the police can assist avoid fraud. Even if you don't think the cops will catch the thief, make a complaint nevertheless. This leaves a paper trail that may be used to fight any fraud with creditors, credit bureaus, and insurance providers. Inform the officers if you have a backup house key in your wallet. (Think about replacing the locks on your house as well.)
If you believe you are a victim of identity theft — for example, that someone stole your name to open a bogus credit card account — you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and complete an Identity Theft Affidavit. This affidavit allows you to fill out a single form to disclose facts about your identity theft case to creditors and lenders.
However, in order to qualify for this form and submit a complaint with the FTC, you must first file a police report as proof, which is why filing a police report with your local law enforcement is critical. A police report may also be required to obtain a new driver's license or Social Security card.
4. Change Your Passwords
Losing your wallet could compromise your e-mail, credit card or bank accounts. Choose new, strong passwords to protect your personal information. Be sure to pick new secret questions and answers, too.
5. Call The DMV
Report your missing driver’s license to your local DMV. It’s illegal to drive without one, though some states may allow you to use your driving record as proof of a valid license. Ask what the specific state requirements are to replace the license.
6. Contact Your Insurance Companies
If you’ve lost your wallet, it’s likely your medical insurance card disappeared with it, so report the loss to the insurer. They may or may not issue a new number; either way, check your explanation of benefits summaries regularly for fraudulent usage. Also notify your auto insurance company if you’ve lost your card.
7. Replace your Social Security card
Keep your Social Security card out of your wallet. Thieves enjoy this card because it has your Social Security number. With this information, they'll be able to apply for loans or lines of credit in your name much more easily.
If you made the mistake of retaining your card in your wallet, you must request a credit freeze from each of the three national credit agencies. Unless you manually lift the freeze, this may help prevent a thief from creating new credit in your name.
The Social Security Administration will not usually issue you a new Social Security number. They will provide you a new card but not a new number. You might be able to persuade the administration to grant you a new number if you can show that your present number was used to steal your identity. That's when filing a police complaint and displaying a copy of it as proof comes in useful.
Starting with an online visit, a journey to a Social Security office, or a phone call, you may replace a lost or stolen Social Security card.
The good news is that the procedure is simple and typically quick. It usually takes approximately two weeks from the moment you report the loss to receiving your new Social Security card. Even better, replacing a lost or stolen Social Security card is completely free of charge.
According to the Social Security Administration, there are three essential procedures to take:
- Learn what documents you need.
- Fill out and print an application.
- Take or email the information to the Social Security Administration.
You can start the replacement card procedure online at www.ssa.gov or by calling toll-free 1-800-772-1213
If you go to your local Social Security office, you’ll need to bring identification — specifically:
- U.S. driver’s license
- A state-issued non-driver identification card, or
- U.S. passport
On the Social Security website, https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/, you can apply for a "New or Replacement Social Security Number and Card." The application can also be downloaded and printed.
Keep in mind that any documentation provided to replace a stolen or lost Social Security card "must be either originals or copies verified by the issuing agency." "The agency will not accept photocopies or notarized papers."
IMPORTANT: If you already have a My Social Security account, you may be able to apply for a replacement Social Security card online in some instances. Residents of eight states, including California, Texas, and Florida, as well as the District of Columbia, have access to this replacement option. This list may grow. Other advantages of having an online Social Security account are being promoted, and people are being encouraged to sign up.