Lost Your Wallet or Purse? 12 Step Guide to Easing the Stress
Nothing can ruin a good day like reaching for your wallet or purse only to find it missing. The only thing worse? When your personal information ends up in the hands of a potential thief.
Once you’ve searched the couch cushions, checked your pockets and surveyed the car, it’s time to protect yourself. Canceling your credit cards isn’t enough. Read on for 12 great ways to protect your information if your purse or wallet goes missing.
1. Make the call: Call your credit and debit card companies. Instead of asking to cancel yours cards, though, report them as missing or stolen. The cards will be suspended with no potential dings to your credit score.
2. Limit your liability: Most companies have a toll-free, 24-hour line for just this kind of emergency. Once a card is reported stolen or missing, federal laws protect consumers from paying for unauthorized transactions. (You’ll be responsible for up to $50 in unauthorized charges if you don’t report the card missing or stolen.)
3. File a police report: There’s a good chance the police can’t get your wallet back, but filing a report sure can’t hurt. Call or visit your local precinct to get the loss down in writing, which will help if you become a fraud of identity theft victim. Be ready to report when and where you lost your wallet or purse, what was in it and any suspicious circumstances.
4. Freeze out scammers: Contact the three major credit-reporting bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — and request a security freeze for all of your accounts. This stops creditors and lenders from checking your reports or credit score without a password you provide, stalling applications for new credit cards in your name.
5. Update automatic payments: Once you report a debit or credit card missing, double check your last few bank statements for automatic payments and update those companies with new billing information. If not, your next payment will be rejected. Losing your wallet is bad enough — you don’t need late fees or suspended service on top of that.
6. Visit the DMV: No one likes spending an hour (if you’re lucky) at the DMV, but your license in the wrong hands could lead to trouble. Report the loss and grab a new one.
7. Assess what’s gone: Don’t forget about your insurance card, work badge, loyalty memberships, library card and even your parking garage key card. Call the respective companies to request new copies.
8. Protect your home: If your purse is gone, there’s a good chance your keys were inside. Consider changing the locks. A would-be-thief now knows where you live (if your license or even a bill was inside) and has the keys to get in — a scary situation.
9. Watch your credit reports: Check for any suspicious activity in the months following the loss. Want some help? Sign up at Lifelock.com to leave credit monitoring to the pros.
Haven’t lost your wallet? Lucky you. Here are a few tips for preventing trouble.
10. Go digital: Download an e-wallet, like the LifeLock Wallet app, on your iPhone or Android device. Store digital copies of all your cards, back up important information, track credit card transactions and even report missing cards lost or stolen. The LifeLock Wallet App gives members access to LifeLock’s identify protection services, including fraud alerts and the $1 million professional recovery assistance guarantee.
11. Get organized: Not ready for an electronic solution? Make a list of all your debit and credit cards, including card numbers, expiration dates and security codes. Keep this somewhere safe for easy reporting should you need it. Want some extra credit? Gather contact information for your credit and debit card issuers. It’ll only take a few minutes, and you’ll thank yourself later.
12. Clear out confidential information: Check your wallet for cards and information that shouldn’t be there. Carrying around canceled or expired credit cards? Cut them up and throw them away. Memorize your Social Security number and keep that card tucked away at home. Never store lists of passwords, account numbers of other important information in your wallet or purse.
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