Losing your wallet or purse can be like losing a Wii Sports tennis match to your 6 year-old nephew: it’s demoralizing and humiliating, and had you just been a bit more careful, it probably wouldn’t have happened.
Luckily, you can easily amend this problem by taking the batteries out of the Wii remote, which will really teach the little guy why he shouldn’t mess with an adult. That is…
What we meant was, losing your wallet is not the end of the world. There are steps you can immediately take to protect yourself and steps you can take to prepare yourself — just in case you do lose your wallet some day. Let’s call in a different kind of personal finance tracking.
Top Six Things To Do When You Lose Your Wallet
- Take action quickly your wallet is an important money tool. Once you’re positive the wallet is lost or stolen, every moment counts. Sure, you may get lucky and the wallet may be found or returned to you; but to ensure the liabilities to yourself are limited, you should get started on the following steps as soon as possible.
- Call your bank and report your ATM card lost or stolen. This step should follow all other steps, as debit card liability could be as little as $50 if you report it immediately within two business days. If you report it after two business days, though, your liability jumps up to $500. Totally forgot to report it? After sixty days, your liability could be unlimited.
- Call your credit card companies. As you report the card lost or stolen, remember to tell the representative the place, time, and amount of the last transaction you know you made. Here’s what to expect: Some issuers will ask various security question to make sure you really are the person that lost the card. They may ask for your address, mother’s maiden name, recent purchase details, and so on to confirm your identity.
- American Express: 1-800-528-4800
- Bank of America:
- Debit Card or Checkbook: CA, 1-800-622-8731; ID & WA, 1-800-442-6680; All other states, 1-800-432-1000
- Credit Card: In the US, 1-800-848-6090; International, 1-757-677-4701
- Citi Credit Cards: 1-800-950-5114
- Chase Debit Cards: 1-800-935-9935
- No one likes the DMV. Even comedian Dane Cook jokes that in the future, when everything is instantaneous, the line at the DMV will still take nine seconds. Regardless, you’re going to need to get in that endless queue and get your license replaced as soon as possible. Many states issues temporary paper license while they process your request. If your state’s DMV has an online appointment schedule feature, use it! If you neglect to get your license replace and your unlucky streak continues, the police officer that pulls you over may not believe your lost-wallet sob story!
- Call the police (non-emergency line) and file a report. You may have to go to the local precinct; or someone may come to file the report for you, as well. Even better, most police precinct will give you a helpful list of companies to call so that you can solve the various issues associated with a disaster like this. Sometimes they can even be their local numbers, which get you a human faster than the 800 numbers.
- Call the credit reporting agencies. Pick from either Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion, as they will forward the information to other agencies on your behalf. Use them to place a temporary security alert on your file, so that lenders will need to verify your identity before opening any account. This temporary security alert lasts for about 90 days on your credit file.
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 or write to P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA. 30374-0241
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742 or write to P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289 or write to Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA. 92834-6790
Numbers to major banks and card companies:
Just in case you have your social security card in your wallet (which, incidentally, you shouldn’t), here’s how to get your card replaced: Head to the social security website and fill out form SS-5. If your card was lost or stolen, you are entitled to a free replacement. You’re limited to three replacements per year, and ten during your lifetime.
Identity theft worries? The Federal Trade Commission has an in-depth page on steps to take in preventing and fighting identity theft.
Top Four Things To Do Before Losing Your Wallet
- Make a list of the contents in your wallet and jot down the number to call for each card. For some extra handiness, make this document electronically available by placing it on an online source such as Google Notebook. Don’t forget to keep this list up to date! Not comfortable with keeping it electronically? Try this check list (100kb, PDF) from the University of Oklahoma Police Department.
- Store some backup cash at home, at the office, or at some other accessible and secure location. If you’re not a cash carrying person, this tip can give you a bit of peace of mind while you’re stranded without your ATM card.
- Stash your social security card in a secure location, instead of your wallet!
- Remove that little slip of paper from your wallet with your PIN, passwords, and login info. The people that keep these little papers in their wallets know who they are.