We’ve all been there: that pang of anxiety when you can’t find your wallet. Maybe you left it somewhere. Maybe it was stolen. Either way, it’s gone and you need to figure out what to do next. Take a deep breath. All is not lost. There are some key steps you can take to start recovering what you need to.
Notify Your Bank & Credit Card Companies
Do this immediately upon realizing you lost your wallet. If you wait more than 24 hours, you might have to pay for charges you didn’t make. Often, the first thing thieves will do is start seeing if they can put your cards to use. Notifying your bank and credit card companies immediately stops that at the pass, and ensures you won’t be on the hook for any of their charges.
Banks and credit card companies will go through the past few charges to confirm they’re yours or mark them as unrecognized so you don’t have to pay for them. After that, they’ll start the process to get you a new card.
Even if you end up finding your card, the only inconvenience is a brief wait for a new card, something that’s much more tolerable than what could happen if thieves started making purchases.
Get a New Driver’s License or Identification Card
Driving without a license can get you a ticket if you’re pulled over, not to mention all the other inconveniences that come up if you’re caught without your ID. Depending on your state, you’ll most likely have to go to the DMV to replace your ID. Bring your social security card (provided it wasn’t in your wallet), birth certificate and some proof of residency, like a utility bill. Some states will charge you to replace the license, but others will waive the fee if you can prove it was stolen with a police report.
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Replace Your Social Security Card
If you had your social security card in your wallet, you’ll want to act as soon as possible. If a thief has your social security card, they can open new credit card accounts, so you’ll want to get a credit freeze with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to ensure no credit cards are opened right away. This might cost a fee between $2-10.
The Social Security Administration will issue you a new card, but won’t issue you a new social security number unless you can prove you were a victim of identity theft. In the future, keep your social security card in a safe place at home, rather than in your wallet.
Initiate a Fraud Alert
When you file a fraud alert with one of the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), it will notify all three so that more security measures are taken to verify your identity when it comes to your credit. Keep a close eye on your credit report to make sure no suspicious activity is occurring, and if any comes up, you can file a complaint with one of the bureaus right away.
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File a Police Report
Though filing a police report can potentially help track down the person who stole your wallet, it’s more important to combat potential identity theft. If your stolen wallet leads to identity theft, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and fill out an Identity Theft Affidavit, but you need a police report confirming the theft to do this. The police report is also key in replacing your driver’s license and social security card in order to prove your original documents were stolen.
Replace Any Other Cards
In all of the chaos surrounding losing our wallet, we sometimes forget what else was in it that we might need to replace. Common documents include insurance cards, car insurance proof, AAA cards, library cards and work ID cards. Make a list of the cards you’re now missing and rank them in order of importance, then start working through the list to replace them. More than likely, the person you talk to will be sympathetic and you can get a replacement card without an issue, or for a small fee.
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Last updated: Oct. 15, 2021