It happens to everyone at some point. Someone steals, or you lose your purse or wallet. Besides any cash you may lose, you are in a panic about someone running up charges on your credit cards and cleaning out your bank accounts. You worry you might not have all the information you need to notify everyone to protect yourself. We have created this handy guide of steps to take to prevent fraud before your wallet or purse is stolen or lost.
Create a file
If you make a file folder of all the information you will need, it will take some of the sting out , if someone steals your wallet or purse. Make a copy of the front and back of these things from your wallet or purse:
- Every credit card
- Every debit card
- Your membership cards
- Your driver’s license
- Insurance cards
- Gift cards
On your copies, write the fraud hotline numbers next to each card. Make a list of all your banks and investment companies, with your account numbers and the fraud reporting number for each.
Unless you have a compelling reason to do otherwise, go online and set a daily spending and cash withdrawal limit for all your cards. For example, if you set a limit of $500 a day for purchases and $200 a day for cash withdrawals from your checking account using your debit card, a thief cannot do much damage in the time it will take you to notify the bank.
Do Not Carry These Items in Your Purse or Wallet
Do not carry your Social Security card daily . If you need it for an important meeting, take it along, but then put it back in a safe place when you get home. Only carry your Medicare card, if you are on the way to an appointment with a new doctor.
Never carry your passwords or PIN numbers in your wallet or purse. Doing so will be giving a thief the tools she needs to wreak havoc on your finances. Even though your bank may refund part of your losses, the refund process can take days or weeks.
Unless you are traveling or need it for identification that day, leave your passport at home. Anyone who has lost a passport will tell you what a long and tortuous process it is to get a new one.
Tips for After Your Wallet or Purse is Lost or Stolen
Despite your best efforts, your wallet or purse are missing. Here are the steps to take:
- Call the police, if you think that someone stole your purse or wallet. If you make no police report, you might not get reimbursement for your losses.
- Grab your handy file and call every company. Start with your bank and credit cards. Have them deactivate all of your missing cards immediately and send you new ones. Have the bank cancel any missing checks.
- Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles and your insurance companies.
- Change the locks on your house. Even if no keys are missing, the thief now knows where you live.
- Change the locks on your car, if your car keys are missing.
- Report the theft of your gift cards, and ask if you can get the stolen ones canceled and new ones issued. Not every company will do this, but it is worth a try.
- Notify all three major credit reporting bureaus and put a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit.
- Check your bank and credit card activity daily for several months.
- Check your credit report about a month after the event and again a few months later, to see if anyone set up accounts in your name.
The laws are different in every state, so talk with an elder law attorney in your area.
The Globe and Mail. “Lost wallet can lead to fraud, so be prepared.” (accessed September 20, 2017) https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/lost-wallet-can-lead-to-fraud-so-be-prepared/article622377/?ref=https://www.theglobeandmail.com&
AARP. “Reduce Fraud Fallout Before and After a Wallet Goes Missing.” (accessed September 20, 2017) https://blog.aarp.org/2016/06/10/reduce-fraud-fallout-before-and-after-a-wallet-goes-missing/
ABC News. “What Should I Do If My Wallet Is Lost or Stolen?” (accessed September 20, 2017) https://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/wallet-lost-stolen/story?id=18358398