What to Do When Your Wallet Is Stolen

Friday, October 9, 2015, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

No one goes through their day expecting their wallet or purse to be stolen, but unfortunately it happens to even the most cautious of us. Will you be prepared should the worst happen to your purse or wallet?

Whether you’re looking to make yourself more prepared, or you’ve just had something of yours stolen, here is a look at what you need to do in the unfortunate event that someone steals your purse or wallet.

  • Ensure that it was truly stolen

    It may sound silly, but you’d be surprised by the number of times people report stolen items to the police, only to realize later that they’d simply misplaced them.

    If you were mugged, or if someone broke into your car, then clearly your wallet was stolen, but otherwise, are you sure that your wallet didn’t just fall out of your pocket while in the car or on the couch?

  • Contact your bank and credit card company

    Now that you know your wallet or purse was truly stolen, it’s time to ensure that your finances will stay safe.

    First, call your bank. Your ATM/debit card might have a PIN attached to it, but chances are it can also be processed like a credit card without the PIN—and that’s money that leaves your checking account immediately.

    Contact your bank as soon as possible—before anyone has the chance to use your card—and report that your card was stolen. Your bank will also be able to help you with any stolen checks.

    Once you’ve squared things away with your bank, you’ll want to call your credit card company as well.

    Instead of cancelling your credit card, report it as stolen—that way your credit card company can suspend your number to keep your money safe.

    Before calling, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared to tell them what the last purchases you made with the card were.

    Once this is done, you’ll want to have new cards with new account numbers sent to you as soon as possible.

    Bonus tip: If as you read this you haven’t yet had your purse or wallet stolen, get prepared now by saving the phone numbers for your bank and credit card company in your phone.

  • Report it to the police

    Once you’ve ensured that your money will remain safe, it’s time to file a report with the police.

    Yes, this will alert the police force to keep an eye out for your stolen items should they arrest the thief who has your items; but more importantly, having a copy of the report will also help to protect your name further down the road should the thief assume your identity and commit crimes in your name.

    Be prepared to tell the police when your wallet was stolen, what you think happened, what was in the wallet, and what the wallet looks like.

  • Sort out your direct deposits and automatic withdrawals

    Don’t forget about the automatic paycheck deposits and payment withdrawals you had tied to your account(s).

    Contact your employer’s HR department and any companies you make automatic payments to in order to ensure that money is going to and coming from the right place.

  • Notify the credit bureaus

    You’ll also need to contact the three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, TransUnion or Experian—in order to put a fraud alert on your account.

    When you have a fraud alert in place, a creditor will have to verify your identity, usually with a phone number you put on file, before approving any new credit.

    Calling one agencies typically does alert all three, but it’s a good idea to call all three just to be safe.

  • Report your missing driver’s license to the DMV

    Don’t forget about your driver’s license, either. Get in touch with the DMV as soon as possible to report your stolen license.

    It’s best to do this in person to expedite the process, and to initiate the process for getting you a new license.

    This process will vary by state and may have some fees attached.

  • If keys were stolen, change your locks

    If you had a spare house key in your wallet, or if your entire purse was stolen, you’ll want to change your locks as soon as possible.

    Do this even if your stolen key finds its way back to you, as someone could have easily made a copy of the key.

    You can change your locks yourself with a kit from your local hardware store, or you can have a reputable locksmith do this for you.

    Car keys are a little more difficult to change, so you’ll want to contact your local car dealer for assistance if your car keys were also stolen.

    Here is a guide to different types of car keys so that you can know what replacing them will involve.

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