Have You Lost Your Wallet Or Has Someone Stolen Your Purse? Here’s What You Should Do
A wallet or a purse is a goldmine for an identity thief, as they are full of the personal information that they need to exploit your credit and your name. This information can be sold and traded very easily to criminals, as seen on the Dateline MSNBC video we have on our homepage. Identity theft is a serious and frightening situation, but there are things you can do today to help you prevent such a thing from happening. If your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, here is what you can do.
1. Contact your credit card/debit card issuers.
Ask to have your account number changed, and understand what sort of options you have. Your first option is calling and completely canceling all of your cards. This choice is not recommended very often, as canceling a card that has money due or canceling a bunch of cards at once can negatively affect your credit score. Just canceling cards might also prompt banks to increase the interest rate on a balance you may still hold. Your best option is to contact the customer service department for each specific card and explain what has happened, as a majority of the time, they have procedures and plans to help you address the situation.
- 800-555-1212 is the number for toll-free assistance, or call the phone numbers on your statements.
- Get a new account number, and ask to have any sort of benefits (like mileage) transferred. Keep the same credit limits with same or better terms, as this helps maintain your credit score.
2. Contact the local police department or sheriff’s office and file a report with them.
- Definitely don’t disregard this step, as it is necessary should you fall victim to an identity thief.
- Retain a copy of the police report.
- Here are some questions they are likely to ask while filing your report:
* When did you first realize your purse was missing?
* Where do you think it was left or stolen?
* What were the contents of your purse or wallet?
* Can you describe the objects in your purse or wallet?
* Do you have a suspect or a description of who took it?
3. Contact all three of the major credit bureaus and ask for them to place a fraud alert on your file.
- Experian PO Box 9595, Allen, TX 75013-9595 Tel: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
- Equifax PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241 Tel: 800-525-6285
- Trans Union PO Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022 Tel: 800-680-7289
Fraud alerts work by requiring creditors to validate your identity prior to approving any credit.
This is usually done by calling the phone number you placed on your personal account when you set up your fraud alert.
4. Talk to the fraud department of your bank or credit union and report what happened.
- This step can possibly be combined with step 1, especially when dealing with debit cards.
5. Order your credit reports and start scrutinizing them very carefully.
- Get your Annual Credit Report from the government mandated free service.
- Keep an eye out for incriminating activity, and if you find some, report it.
6. Inform the state Department of Motor Vehicles of your missing driver’s license.
- Be sure to check how to go about getting a new license when at the DMV.
7. If any of your keys are missing, like your car or home keys, change the locks as quickly as possible.
- Many people disregard this step. Even if you get all of your stuff back, a criminal may have made a duplicate copy of your keys before they were recovered.
8. Create an inventory or everything that was in your stolen purse or wallet.
Be sure to include everything you can possibly think of. In fact, keep this list with you for a couple days so you can continue to add to it when you remember. Absolutely everything should go on this list: credit cards, shopping cards, gift cards, Blockbuster cards, cash, chapstick, information about your children, and so on. Having such a detailed list makes the situation much easier to deal with.
Here are some things to remember:
* Did you have any blank checks in your purse or wallet when it was taken or lost?
* Did you have any account numbers or passwords?
* Where there house or car keys?
* Identification cards for pick up from daycare or anything like that?
* Combinations to a padlock, safe deposit box, or mailbox?
9. Research and Subscribe to a Trustworthy Identity Protection Service
While this is only a suggestion, we wholeheartedly back this piece of advice. Trust me when it is worth it, even if just for the peace of mind. Lifelock, TrustedID, and Debix are all great companies. They are not only affordable at $9 a month or $99 for a year, but they also are with you the entire credit and name restoration process.
Having your identity stolen is a terrible situation. What’s even worse than losing your purse or wallet is having to jump through all the hoops and having to spend all the time and money getting back to your normal life. Subscribing to a service now gives you full protection, and despite when the attack starts, you will be safe. Afterall, identity thieves often wait months to years to start an attack. Under these services, you also gain access to a million dollar insurance plan and service guarantee. However, waiting is the worst thing you can do. If you wait, you will not be able to get insurance from anyone.
We have an article addressing the question of if you really need identity protection. Definitely take the time to read this article, as it is full of useful tips and information that many people have no idea about.
10. Talk with your bank
The Federal Trade Commission currently has no cap on the amount of money you could lose if someone where to get their hands on some of your checks and forge your signature. While the state technically holds the bank responsible for these loses, the bank requires their customers to “take reasonable care” of their accounts. This ambiguous qualification is where many people lose. Stay under this qualification by closing your current checking account and starting a new one. This is especially important if any of your checks are missing. The bank will then alert it’s internal processors of the closed account. However, it is recommended by the FTC that you call yourself, as someone could still possibly be able to use your checks. Here are some numbers:
- Certegy Inc. 1-800-770-3792
- International Check Services 1-800-631-9656
- TeleCheck 1-800-710-9898 or 927-0188
It’s easy to panic and become stressed when your purse or wallet is lost or stolen. However, you are already better off armed with the knowledge of what to do. Acting quickly can help you slip out of the situation without it escalating into an even more disastrous one.
In a situation where a wallet is stolen or a purse is lost, protecting your identity is paramount. There are things you can do to help keep damage to a minimum should something happen. Certain precautions can be made to reduce the impact should your personally sensitive information ever become compromised.
Here is some advice to help you avoid stress, time, and losing money:
- Don’t carry items that you don’t need in your purse or wallet. Keep all of your important stuff in a secure location.
- Create a very specific, detailed list of the things you carry with you.
- Absolutely never carry your Social Security number or card in your purse or wallet.
- Also never carry passwords or account numbers in your wallet or purse.
- Be sure to keep important contact numbers and personally or financially sensitive information in a safe place where they can be accessed quickly and easily if necessary.
- Invest in identity protection services.
* Lifelock is only $99 per year or $9 per month, and you also get your first 30 days for free. LifeLock also offers the WalletLock service, which means you only have to make one call if your wallet or purse is stolen. They will then take care of getting you a new ID.
* Keep in mind that there is more to protecting your identity than removing your name from pre-authorized credit card mailing lists and fraud detection. Identity insurance and service guarantees are an indispensable part of good protection. Having a million dollars to help you get out of an identity theft situation and being guaranteed that your good name will be restored is all part of having the power of an identity protection firm on your side.
* We have reviews of LifeLock, TrustedID, and Debix for your perusal. They give a comprehensive look at what these services offer, and you will also find some helpful advice. Hopefully, though, they show you just how necessary a solid protection plan is in today’s world. Timing is everything, so take action now before something bad happens that threatens your financial stability.