Your wallet is nowhere to be found. Your mind starts racing as you attempt to remember everything that was in there. Who do you call first? What information do you give them? Losing your wallet (or having it stolen) puts you at risk for identity theft, financial loss and fraud. The sooner you act, the better your chances of protecting yourself from potentially life-altering damage. Here are seven easy steps you can take to create a "lost wallet kit." Trust me, you'll thank yourself later!
1. Clean It Out
Certain things should never be kept in your wallet. Start by removing any and all of these:
- Social security card and/or birth certificate
- Gift Cards
- PINs or Passwords
2. Create a File
Scan the front and back of every item in your wallet. Include your driver's license, bank and credit cards, health insurance and car insurance details so that you will have account numbers and contact information available. Keep this data in a safe place, such as a removable hard drive in a fireproof box.
3. Download Apps
Some banks and credit card companies offer apps that allow you to freeze your account. Downloading these apps enables you to turn off your card instantly from your phone and restart it again, should you find your wallet.
4. List Subscriptions
Create a list of automatic recurring payments, such as Netflix or your cell phone bill, so that you can make arrangements for alternate payments if you cancel your cards. This one is critical, even if you never lose your wallet. How many times has your bank sent you a new card because a retailer got hacked after you shopped there? And suddenly, Netflix won't work because it's still got your old card info stored!
5. Add Contact Info
Include a business card or note with your name and number in your wallet. If an honest, thoughtful person finds it, they can give you a ring.
6. Stash Some Cash
Make sure you have some emergency money or a credit card stored at home in case you can't access your bank account for a few days. This is also good to keep in mind while you're traveling—never keep all of your credit or debit cards in one place. That way, if you lose one, you won't lose them all.
7. Make a To Do List
After you have notified banks, credit card companies and others, be sure to do the following ASAP:
- File a police report
- Place a fraud alert with the credit bureaus
- Head to the DMV to get a new license or ID
- Consider subscribing to a fraud monitoring service for added peace of mind.
Hopefully you will never need to use this information, but you’ll certainly be glad to have it should you ever discover that your wallet is missing.