Losing your wallet is a terrible feeling.
One moment you're on solid ground, going about your daily business, and the next, you're in free fall. If you're in this situation, frantically searching through your pockets and coming up empty, realize that most of us go through this at one time or another. Here are some steps to take to make sure you minimize the amount of time and money you spend making up for your carelessness.
Part 1: Evaluate the situation
- Don't Panic
If you've lost your wallet, don't panic. Take a deep breath. Losing a wallet isn't fun, but if you do this right, the consequences will be relatively minimal.
2. Check to make sure the wallet is lost
Before you dive in, do a quick search to check and see if you can find the wallet. Call the last few places you remember making a purchase or using your wallet, even if you're sure they're not there. Check all your bags, pockets, and every nook and cranny you can think of.
Part 2: Deal with your credit cards
3. Check your bank statements for chargesWhether you had a MetroCard, a social security card, a license, or three old sticks of gum in your wallet, you'll want to take stock of what you've lost. If you had your key in your wallet, consider changing your locks. Consider changing your passwords to any accounts that might have been connected to your bank information. Take note of any lost library cards, medical insurance cards (you'll need to cancel those too if they were lost), or other cards that might be important, and notify those organizations as needed. 4. Cancel or lock your credit or debit cards
This is a quick, easy, and important step you can take to prevent any fraudulent charges. Most banks allow you to lock or cancel your cards quickly via their website. If you think your wallet is lost somewhere in your house, not stolen, locking the cards is a good way to avoid having to order new ones. However, if you see fraudulent charges, cancel the cards immediately.
5. Call your bank
When you call your bank, tell them that your wallet was stolen, even if you aren't sure thats what happened. During the call, you can also put in an order for an expedited card. Once you report a lost card, you cannot be held liable for fraudulent charges. Make sure you also let your bank know if you were carrying any blank checks.
6. Contact anyone who might share your cards and let them know to cancel their cards
This step speaks for itself. Also, think of any recurring charges that might run into an issue if your card is canceled and address those as needed.
Part 3: Deal with your other cards and lost items
7. Make a list of everything that was in your wallet
Whether you had a MetroCard, a social security card, a license or three old sticks of gum in your wallet, you'll want to take stock of what you've lost. If you had your key in your wallet, consider changing your locks. Consider changing your passwords to any accounts that might have been connected to your bank information. Take note of any lost library cards, medical insurance cards (you'll need to cancel those too if they were lost), or other cards that might be important, and notify those organizations as needed.
8. Contact the DMV about your drivers' licenseMost people carry their licenses in their wallet, so you'll probably want to get in touch with the DMV. To replace a driver's license, you'll often need to visit the DMV in person (be sure to bring your birth certificate and social security card or military ID). Every state has different DMV requirements, so check yours out here.
Part 4: Get the legal details in place and consider identity theft
9. Inform the authoritiesYou'll want to file a police report when your wallet is lost, especially if identity theft is a risk. Call your local police department's non-emergency number and ask them to file a report. You'll need to make the report in whatever area you think you lost the wallet in.
10. Inform the social security organization
If you lost your social security card, immediately report that to the Social Security Administration.
11. Create a fraud alert
Losing your wallet means you're entitled to a free credit report and fraud alerts. Even if you've canceled your cards, it's a good idea to put a fraud alert on your account, which will be free for 90 days and will alert you in the case of suspicious activity. Call these numbers to do so:
1-888-766-0008Experian®: Experian.com/fraudalert; 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion®: TransUnion.com/fraud; 1-800-680-7289
Part 5: Damage control
12. Figure out what you need to do now
As you wait for your cards to arrive, you might be wondering how you're going to pay for everything. Most of the time, if you know your social security number and have some form of identification, you can go to the bank and get them to pull out money for you. If you're overseas, you can have relatives wire you money through Western Union.
13. Make sure this won't happen again
In the future, consider only keeping a few things in your wallet to minimize the consequences of losing it. Consider also how you might keep your wallet more protected. Realize that there's nothing you can do now except look to the future.