You’re winding down after a night out when you realize your wallet is not in your pocket where it should be. After making a few calls and frantically searching your jacket, car, and driveway, the realization that your wallet is really missing sinks in. Now what?
If that scenario sounds familiar, then you know all too well how scary it can be to lose your wallet and all the important personal and financial information it holds. When your credit cards and ID find their way into the wrong hands, the consequences can be devastating.
If you’re wondering what to do if you lose your wallet, then you’ve come to the right place. There are six steps you should take after you’ve lost your wallet to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft.
Don’t wait: if you’ve exhausted your search and still can’t find your wallet, time is of the essence. Keep scrolling to learn what to do when you lose your wallet.
Contact Your Bank and Credit Card Companies
The very first thing you should do after you have lost your wallet and know it likely won’t be found is call your bank and credit card companies. The last thing you want is for someone to begin making unauthorized purchases with your card information.
Start by calling your bank to let them know that your card was lost or stolen so they can cancel it and issue a replacement. You’ll want to start with your debit cards because your level of responsibility for unauthorized charges depends on how quickly you inform your bank. They will likely review recent transactions with you to confirm any fraudulent purchases.
Next, call your credit card companies. You won’t be held responsible for any fraudulent purchases made on a credit card, but it’s important to get your card canceled and get a replacement issued as soon as possible.
Some banks and credit card companies allow you to freeze or report a stolen card through their website or mobile app. If your wallet is lost after business hours – or you’ve been on hold for wayyyyy too long – this is a great way to start managing the situation until you can speak to the company directly.
Set Up a Fraud Alert
Once your information has been stolen, someone could try to open new financial accounts in your name. To help keep this from happening, contact one of the three national credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion – and ask them to set up a fraud alert on your credit report.
The alert will remain in place at no charge for 90 days. This added protection will require creditors and lenders to take extra steps to verify your identity before opening a new account. You only need to contact one of the three bureaus, and they will contact the other two on your behalf.
If you want a little extra protection, you can also set up a credit freeze on your credit report with each of the three credit bureaus. These security freezes will prevent creditors from accessing your credit file, so nobody can open an account in your name.
A credit freeze will remain in place until you lift it, and can easily be set up online through each of the national credit bureaus’ websites. Keep in mind that you will have to lift the freeze if you ever need to open a new financial account so that creditors can access your credit report.
You can always check your credit report as an additional measure to ensure no new accounts are opened that you didn’t authorize. Here are the phone numbers and websites for the three national credit bureaus:
File a Police Report
Whether you believe your lost wallet was stolen or not, it’s a good idea to go ahead and file a police report so that you have a paper trail in case you become the victim of fraud.
When reporting fraudulent activity or identity theft, or when you try to get a new driver’s license or social security card, you may be required to share a police report as evidence, which is why filing a police report is actually a key part of protecting your identity.
If you had a copy of your house key in your wallet, don’t forget to inform the police of that and change your locks as well. After all, a potential criminal will know where you live if they have your ID.
To file a police report, simply go down to your local police department or give them a call on their non-emergency line.
Get a New Driver’s License
If you’ve lost your wallet, it’s a pretty safe bet that your driver’s license went with it. If that’s the case, you’re definitely going to need a replacement.
Not only is it illegal to drive without a license, but a potential criminal can use the personal details on your ID to wreak all kinds of havoc. That being said, it’s important to contact your local DMV to report your license is missing or stolen.
While you’re at it, find out which documents you will need in order to get a new license, then go to the DMV to file for a replacement. You may be required to provide your social security number and birth certificate, among other things.
Depending on your state, you could be charged a small fee for issuing a replacement. If you can provide proof that it was stolen through a police report, some states may waive the fee.
Contact Your Insurance Companies
If you keep your medical insurance cards in your wallet, as many people do, then when you lose your wallet you’ll likely lose those with it. Make sure to report any lost insurance cards to the issuer, whether medical or auto.
If you are worried about someone fraudulently using your benefits, check your explanation of benefits statement to ensure nobody has used your insurance card.
When you contact your insurance companies, they should be able to issue a new card, and they may or may not provide you with a new number as well.
Consider What Else Was in Your Wallet
We’ve covered the basics, but before you breathe a sigh of relief, think about anything else that was in your wallet that could pose a problem if it falls into the wrong hands.
Pull out your notepad and make a list of everything else that was in your wallet. Did you have any passwords or account numbers saved in there? Perhaps a gym membership card?
While not all of these are urgent, making a list can help you prioritize what needs to be addressed first, like changing your passwords or account numbers. Whereas other things like membership or loyalty cards can be replaced at your leisure.
Wallet Security Tips
Now that you know what to do if you lost your wallet, let’s go over some tips to avoid the situation in the first place.
First and foremost, make sure you don’t keep any sensitive items like your social security card, passwords, or your house key in your wallet. That way, if your wallet is lost or stolen, you don’t have to worry about someone getting their hands on all your personal information.
Next, using a Bluetooth tracker like these from Tile is a great way to keep tabs on your wallet. These thin, card-sized trackers can be easily slipped into your wallet to help you determine whether your wallet has been stolen, or if it just fell between the seats of your car.
Additionally, using a secure wallet is a great way to help keep your information safe and even prevent loss or theft in the first place
A slim wallet like the GeoGrit Wallet can provide RFID theft protection, and its slim design keeps your cards secure, preventing any from falling out and becoming loose in your pocket. These minimalist wallets are also designed to be carried in your front pocket, which greatly reduces your chances of becoming the victim of a pickpocket.
So if you don’t already have a GeoGrit Wallet, what are you waiting for?
If you’ve ever lost a wallet, you know how scary it can be knowing your personal and financial information could be in the wrong hands.
We’ve gone over six steps that outline what to do if you lose your wallet so that if you find yourself in this situation, you can quickly work to secure your information and prevent fraud and identity theft.
The first thing you’ll want to do is report your lost cards to your bank and credit card companies. Once that’s done, you should set up a fraud alert through one of the three national credit bureaus to ensure nobody can open a new account in your name. Obtaining a new driver’s license, contacting your insurance companies, and filing a police report should also be on your to-do list.
Carrying a secure, minimalist wallet that’s designed to prevent RFID theft and pickpocketing is a great way to help prevent loss or theft in the first place.If you’re interested in carrying a minimalist wallet that’s made in the USA, check out our entire collection at GeoGrit.com. To learn more about why we do what we do, read our story here.