No matter how careful you are, you’ll likely misplace your wallet at some point. Maybe you’ll leave it behind in an Uber, or perhaps someone will steal it. Regardless of how you lose your possessions, it’s imperative that you take these five steps as soon as possible to minimize the damage and secure your assets.
1. Call Your Banks Immediately
Although you might have lost everything, including your cash and your driver’s license, the most dangerous lost item is actually your debit card. Thieves can quickly use your debit card to access your bank account and withdraw large sums of money, and unfortunately, those funds might not be replaceable.
Call your bank as soon as you realize your wallet is missing and have them cancel your lost debit card. They will issue you a new one and take note of any attempted uses of the old debit card. ID cards and other wallet contents are replaceable, but the contents of your bank account might not be.
2. Request New Credit Cards
Credit cards are less dangerous to lose since they don’t provide thieves with direct access to your checking account, but they still need to be secured. After you’ve finished protecting your debit card, call any credit card companies you have an account with and have them send you a new card.
Fortunately, if a thief does use your credit card before you can report it missing, you will only be responsible for a small portion of the unauthorized purchases (usually around $50). Still, you should secure your credit accounts as quickly as possible to prevent complications. Some credit companies even allow you to freeze your account online as soon as you misplace the card.
3. Freeze Your Accounts With All Three Credit Bureaus
One concern about losing your wallet is that anyone who finds it could piece together your identity with credit cards, driver’s licenses, and other forms of identification. This means that your personal identity could be at risk. The Federal Trade Commission reports that roughly 9 million Americans experience some form of identity theft each year, so don’t take the concern lightly.
To prevent someone else from impersonating you and applying for credit cards or other big purchases (home loans, apartments, etc.), freeze your credit accounts with the three big bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Then, if anyone attempts to fill out an application with your information, the credit bureau will block them from securing funds in your name. It used to cost money to freeze your account, but luckily, the process is now free to everyone.
4. Report and Replace Your Missing Driver’s License
Because your identity at risk, it’s smart to report your driver’s license as missing to the police department or local DMV. You may also want to look into an identity theft protection program that will alert you to fraudulent actions and help you replace items you’ve lost.
To replace your missing driver’s license, you’ll need to visit your state’s department of motor vehicles. Some states will allow you to apply for a replacement online while others will require you to come to a DMV location.
5. Download an App to Monitor Transactions
There are dozens of personal finance apps on the market that are designed to help you track and approve every transaction made on your debit and credit accounts. For instance, with an application like Mint, you’ll see every charge on your cards. This is especially important after your wallet has gone missing; if anyone makes a fraudulent charge, you’ll know right away.
When you lose your wallet, time is of the essence. Don’t hesitate to start making important phone calls and freezing accounts. These actions could prevent you from serious problems like lost funds and identity theft, so take them seriously.