I Lost My Wallet. Now What?

You set it on the table … or in your car … or on the restaurant table. And now it’s gone. When you have a lost wallet or handbag, your first instinct is to panic. Before you do, take a deep breath and remember these tips listed below to make sure losing your wallet is just a hassle, not a tragedy.

Make Sure It’s Really Gone

It’s hard to not leap right into panic mode, but you might want to wait just a little bit. Re-trace your steps and see if you can find your lost wallet. If you think you misplaced it at a business, call or stop by to see if anyone has turned it in. Or, if it’s found by a Good Samaritan, see if they contact you. There’s nothing worse than canceling your cards only to find your wallet an hour later. Once you’ve determined that your purse or wallet is actually gone, then you’ll want to take action.

File a Lost Wallet Police Report

It seems a little drastic, but establishing a police report (and therefore a timeline and pertinent details) could be very important later on. For example, if your identity is stolen and you need to dispute charges, having a police report on file could be vital to help you back up your claims. Be prepared to provide details on how and where your wallet or purse went missing, and its contents.

Call Your Bank and/or Credit Card Company

A thief will try to use your debit or credit card as soon as possible before it’s shut down, so it’s important that you notify your bank or credit card company quickly. The sooner your card is canceled, the sooner they can route a new one to you, and that takes a little time. You’ll also want to log in to your account so you can report fraudulent charges right away. Companies have fraud teams to help spot suspicious charges, but staying on top of fraudulent activity can help ensure you don’t pay for someone else’s spending spree.

Call Your Insurance Company

If you keep a benefits card in your wallet — and most of us do — you’ll want to report this. Medical identity theft is on the rise, with thieves using stolen information to purchase prescriptions and medical services and leaving someone else with the bill. Check with your insurance company to see if it can provide you with a temporary ID card until a replacement arrives in the mail, just in case you have a medical emergency.

Contact a Credit Bureau to Set Up Fraud Alert

Contact one of the three big credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) so it can place a fraud alert on file. Why only call one? Because they’re legally obligated to contact the other bureaus if a fraud alert is placed on your account. A fraud alert requires a credit bureau to contact you if someone tries to set up a new account under your name. Once set, a fraud alert will stay in place for 90 days.

Preventive Measures

Haven’t lost your wallet or purse? That’s great, but can you guarantee that you never will? Didn’t think so. There are a few preventive measures you can take to minimize the impact of losing your wallet, like not carrying a lot of cash, and never carrying around your Social Security card. You might also want to consider identity theft protection to protect your credit and your reputation — ask your local Farm Bureau agent for details.