A friend of mine recently lost her wallet and it made me realize just how painfully annoying that can be emotionally and physically. In her case, her wallet was actually stolen from her at a bar in Boston and someone used her credit cards to run up bills of a couple thousand dollars in less than a few hours. She merely thought that she mistakenly left her wallet at the bar and decided that she would just give the bar a call in the morning when she got to work to see if she could stop by and pick it up… but in those first few hours, the damage had already been done to her accounts.
I have always heard that you should have a snap shot of your wallet somewhere for safe keeping. When I used to travel internationally a lot, I had a copy of my passport and all my cards in my wallet hidden in my suitcase with an extra copy of my Massachusetts driver’s license and an emergency credit card. You can never be too careful and I’m going to go ahead and make sure that my snap shot is up to date now. The snapshot should have the front and back of each card in case you need to quickly access all the numbers at once. The front has your information and the back will have the contact numbers that you would need in an emergency like this. The whole process took me about 5 minutes to complete and I would highly recommend doing it!
In the wake of her financial crisis, I thought it would be good to lay out the steps that should be taken in case you were ever to misplace or lose your wallet. The first step that you should take is to retrace your steps since you last remember having it – if you were out shopping, call the stores that you visited and see if anyone turned your wallet in to the lost and found. If you are not able to locate it, its best to file a police report to ensure that if it was actually stolen and not misplaced that you are doing your due diligence to report it. This is a key step that will help you deal with your financial institutions should you need to file claims that fraudulent charges were made to your accounts.
Next, I would alert your financial institutions that you need to cancel your cards – this would include all bank accounts and credit cards. You can request that they cancel the card that you had and issue you a new one. In addition, make sure that you do this with your store charge cards (ie. Gap, Express, etc.) as well because their credit card policies are sometimes less stringent and easier for a thieve to use.
You would also need to alert the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your accounts. I would contact the three major credit bureaus in order to put a stop to any thieve trying to authorize any new lines of credit in your name. This is also beneficial because you do not want to be liable for any charges that are made without your authorization.
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
Then, contact the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles to report that your driver’s license is missing and apply for a new one with a new number.
Once you have done all of the above, you just have to wait it out and hope that someone contacts you to return your wallet. I would suggest always having business cards and/or contact information inside your wallet in case you lose it. Hopefully, its a Good Samaritan that picks it up and turns it in for your sake! Otherwise, I would diligently follow your financial accounts online to make sure that no suspicious activity is taking place.
Have you ever had the unfortunate event of having your wallet stolen? How did you handle it? Is there anything additional that you would tell someone in this situation to do?