When your wallet is lost or stolen, it’s tough not to fear the worst—credit card fraud and identity theft. But you can hold the panic at bay by acting quickly and taking a few preventative measures that help protect your credit and reduce your liability.
Before Your Wallet Goes A.W.O.L.
Because identity theft is on the rise and a real threat you should not ignore, take these steps NOW as preventative measures:
- Photocopy your credit cards, ID cards, and licenses (front and back) to help you report their loss accurately and efficiently.
- Keep the copies in a safe place.
- Make new copies of cards that are updated or replaced.
- NEVER carry your Social Security card with you. Keep it safe in a secure location.
- Be sure your pocket or your purse can’t be picked for your wallet.
- Consider using an RFID wallet or purse to prevent electronic thieves as well.
After Your Wallet Goes A.W.O.L.
Upon discovering that your wallet is irretrievable, take these steps ASAP:
- Cancel your credit cards and request replacements with new numbers.
- Call agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and your healthcare provider for replacement licenses and ID cards.
- Report the theft of your wallet to the police.
- Request a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com to check for and report any unusual activity.
- Contact each national credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union) to request that a fraud alert be attached to your accounts.
Although these measures cannot guarantee the security of your identity and credit, they go a long way to deter thieves and protect your financial liability.