It is your first instinct to panic once you think you have lost your wallet. However, it may simply be misplaced, so staying calm during your search can save time and anxiety—and even help to find it. If, after you have exhausted all options, your wallet still cannot be found, the proper organizations must be contacted to ensure your personal and financial safety. Below is practical advice to help you recover from this loss of personal information.
Before completing the subsequent tasks on this list, be certain that your wallet is not tucked under a couch cushion or in your car, for example. For obvious reasons, this is an integral step in the process. Reverse your steps. Try to recall your most recent purchase. Do your best to remember when and where your wallet was last physically in your hands. These exercises will help you to recollect its location.
Your bank and credit card companies should be alerted immediately upon confirming a lost credit or debit card. Some banks are equipped to issue on-the-spot replacement debit cards for your convenience. Part of your bank’s promise should be ensuring that you are never without your funds. Credit card companies and other financial institutions should also be notified when you have determined your wallet is lost. In most cases, a new credit card can be issued within three to five business days.
To prevent long-term damage to your credit score, it is crucial to inform the three major credit reporting agencies of your loss. They will set up fraud alerts to help combat identity theft. Below are the phone numbers of the three credit report agencies that you should call to file a report instantly:
1. Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN
2. Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
3. Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
Similar to placing a fraud alert with the reporting agencies, it is a good idea to let the Social Security Administration (SSA) know that your information was lost. If, in the following days, you do recognize suspicious financial activity, the government will be aware of the situation. The SSA can be reached at 1-800-772-1213.
Most homeowner policies have some sort of identity theft coverage. This would be a great time to learn more about your coverage. Should your policy not include identity theft, inquire about short-term coverage to protect yourself, your finances and your belongings.
Whether or not your wallet was lost, if someone found your wallet, that person has access to your home address, credit card numbers and, most likely, other highly personal information. Go through the proper measures to ensure your safety and the safety of those living in your home. Consider changing the locks, moving the outdoor spare key, and monitoring for suspicious figures in your neighborhood are all good examples of the precautions you can take.
You may think you lost your wallet, but it may have been stolen. Thieves often target individuals who are in unfamiliar places, like vacationers, and prey on their naïvety. File a police report once you have identified and confirmed the issue. The neighborhood in which your wallet disappeared may be experiencing a rise in burglaries and alerting the authorities about the possibility of another might help to end the criminal acts.
Driving without a license may result in a fine and points on your driving record. With one phone call, and possibly a short trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles, you can legally be back on the road without any hesitation.
The Federal Trade Commission collects information about identity theft for studies and analysis. Your loss can help the FTC hone in on the knowledge necessary to stop this type of crime. They can be reached at 1-877-ID-THEFT.
In addition to the financial items in your wallet, do your best to recall the other important pieces you may have lost. This may include your medical insurance card, work identification, or gym card. The last grueling, but important, step requires taking inventory of these additional items. For example, if you discover your Social Security Card is gone, it’s important to contact the Internal Revenue Service to file your loss. Be sure to follow up with each respective institution to report your loss and request replacements.
It is important to remember that losing your wallet is not always a direct link to stolen identity. Regardless of why your wallet is missing, following through with the above tactics will help you to stay calm and provide yourself with financial protection.
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Photo Credits: #8156580 - guy picking up a lost a lost purse/wallet © Ashrafov - BigStockPhoto.com; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com