Last week I reached into my handbag for my wallet and it wasn’t there. Damn! The next few things that flashed through my mind left me feeling like I just wanted to go home, climb into bed and pretend the day hadn’t happened. My driver’s license was gone. My credit cards—and all the auto debits on them—would have to be replaced. My debit card, poof! And the $200 in cash that I always carry because I spend so much time on the road. Ouch.
Losing a wallet means you’ve got to get busy, quick like a bunny. Contact your credit card companies, your bank, the credit bureau and the police.
Since you don’t want to waste time searching for all the phone numbers you need, have a file ready at home. In it you’ll have a photocopy of your credit cards and all your other identification, both front and back, and you’ll have written the contact information you need on the photocopy. You must keep this document in a safe place.
While the police won’t do much, your loss should be on record in case credit card companies investigate fraudulent purchases or you must prove the date of your loss.
Call your bank and notify them if you’ve lost a chequebook or debit card. When my girlfriend, Sam, had her wallet stolen, she opened up a new account and transferred her balance. If hucksters tried to use her old account information, it led nowhere.
Don’t forget all the other cards in your wallet—loyalty cards, car club membership, health club card—all of which may be used as ID or linked online to personal information. How happy would you be to find out someone else was using your video membership card and never bothered to return the videos?
Credit bureaus can place a fraud alert on your file that will stop thieves from using your personal information to secure a line of credit or even a mortgage. The fraud alert doesn’t stop you from obtaining credit; creditors will call the phone number you put on the alert to ensure it’s you seeking the credit. You need to call all the bureaus to be sure you’re covered. Here are the numbers again:
Monitor your credit report for a few months to make sure there’s no stuff going down you need to know about. If you have to pay a couple of times to get your credit report, believe me, it’s worth every penny.
Everyone has days when their attention is on too many things. When I got back to my car, I found my wallet between the seat and the console, where it had slipped after I paid for gas. Phew! What a relief.