My Wallet Got Stolen. Now What?

Any great day or evening can quickly take a turn when a wallet goes missing, particularly one that contains a social security card. Determining whether you simply misplaced it or someone stole it can be a question that is never answered. However, once you have determined that the wallet is gone for good, you have absolutely no time for self-pity. It’s time to take action and prevent any potential damage from being done to your bank account, or even worse, your personal identity.

File a Police Report

Getting the police involved means giving them as much information as possible: the description, where you last had it, what you think happened, and what the purse or wallet contained. Filing a report is critical, especially if any crimes end up committed in your name by the thief.

Call the Credit Bureaus

Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are the three credit bureaus that assist with credit management and protection. Call all three to set up a fraud alert. Fraud alert means lenders are required to ask for personal identification before issuing any new credit under your name. Each company will also send you a credit report, which you can view for any suspicious activity, such as accounts you didn’t open, activity on old cards, unfamiliar addresses, etc.

Additionally, you can ask the credit bureaus to put a credit freeze on your reports. This means lenders cannot run a credit report under your name without specific permission from you.

Call Your Bank

Before anything you will want to cancel your ATM debit cards. If you report the card as lost or stolen before any transactions are done, you have zero liability. However, as time goes on, you can be liable for as much as $50 or more. If you want to be really careful, you may consider closing the account altogether and opening a new one at a different bank. Some criminals can work the system and get enough information to tap into new accounts opened with the same bank.

Be Your Own Fraud Investigator

Continue monitoring credit reports and bank accounts. Check your credit report monthly for the first three months after the wallet went missing, and continue to do so annually in the future. You cannot afford to procrastinate running credit reports in these types of situations.

In the future, banks and the police have a few tips for better protecting your private information, finances and identity:

  • Use an aluminum wallet
    Identity thieves are unfortunately getting smarter. Less are physically stealing wallets from purses because of the new popular scanning device, which allows them to walk past you and your wallet, scan your information and continue on their merry way, and you will have never known anything was going on. Aluminum wallets protect against these scanning devices.
  • Limit your ATM usage
    While using cash is safer than handing over a debit or credit card, you need to be safe when withdrawing money. Lately, scammers have received personal information of others due to inserting a scanning device into the ATM. It’s really best to go inside a bank to receive withdrawals, even though it may not be as convenient.
  • Sign up with a credit bureau
    Signing up as a member of Equifax, TransUnion or Experian will give you more control over your accounts. You receive credit reports, notifications of suspicious activity, unlimited access to your credit score and identity theft insurance. Signing up with a credit bureau can make lost or stolen wallets less stressful than necessary.

Lindsay Bradshaw is a content developer for Kyle Law in New Braunfels, Texas. She thinks getting your identity stolen is one of the most stressful things a person has to ever deal with.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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