It happens to nearly everyone, your wallet or purse gets lost or stolen and you panic. Where do you begin and what do you do? Addressing the problem of a stolen wallet can seem overwhelming, but if you follow the three steps below, you should be well on your way to a having new wallet with new cards with as minimal hassle as possible.
First, however, a caveat: You should report the wallet as lost or stolen as quickly as possible. The longer you wait the more difficult the situation will become.
- Call your credit card companies and banks. For each credit card or ATM card in your wallet, call the issuer and report the item as lost or stolen. Most banks and credit card companies are very friendly about this and will help you through the process of canceling the card, getting a new one, and reporting any fraudulent charges that may have already occurred. You’ll have to answer a number of questions and may even have to fax in some other proof of identity (like a utility bill), but it all depends on the issuer. Also, if you need cash instantly many banks will allow you to take a certain amount out (usually around $200) if you go to the local branch and speak with someone.
- Think about what other cards were in your wallet. Call your department of motor vehicles, insurance companies and any other company whose card you might have had in your wallet. Though uncommon, it’s possible that the finder/thief will go to the movie store and check out (and never return) several movies or video games in your name.
- Call one the three credit bureaus. Call either Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. You can ask them to issue a fraud or security alert that is either temporary or permanent. This alert will not deny you any credit, nor will it affect your credit score. It will only force any companies requesting credit to further verify your identity before issuing credit. You only have to report to one of the credit monitoring bureaus as they are required to share information with the other two.
- File a police report. This can be the biggest hassle because it requires that you go to the local station and fill out some paper work. Filing the police report may be required by credit card companies or banks if there have already been fraudulent charges.
If you take these three steps as quickly as possible usually you can get new credit cards and ATM cards within a few days and the entire issue can get cleared up within a month.
Extra tip: It’s a good idea to always leave one credit card or ATM card at home. You don’t need to be carrying all cards at all times; and that way, if your wallet gets lost or stolen you will still have another form of payment.