It can happen to any of us, and happens to many of us; according to government statistics, some 900,000 victims of identity theft in 2009 alone reported a lost or stolen wallet was to blame.
Be it a pickpocket at the shopping center, or a “misplaced” wallet during the chaos of prepping for the busy holiday season, whatever the case may be, take a few steps now – before your wallet goes M.I.A. – to avoid a time-consuming and potentially costly headache.
Make copies of everything in your wallet. Copy front and back, so phone numbers to replace lost or stolen credit cards, for example, are at your fingertips. You’ll also want to copy the “small things,” like gym membership, library and DVD rental cards. Keep all photocopies in a safe place for easy retrieval.
Contact Credit and Debit Card Issuers.
Report that your card was lost or stolen to credit card companies. Same goes for any department store charge cards. Let us know right away if you ever lose your Centennial Bank-issued debit or ATM card, so we can issue a new card. We’ll also be able to alert you of any suspect charges that may have been made on your card after you lost it, as criminals often “test” cards by making small, inconspicuous charges.
Notify the Credit Reporting Agencies.
A lost or stolen wallet can potentially wreck havoc on your credit. Contact the three credit reporting agencies right away in the event of a lost or stolen card(s). Have them place a 90-day fraud alert on all accounts. Be vigilant and monitor your credit report to assure that no suspicious activity shows up.
Equifax: P.O. Box 740250, Atlanta, GA 30374- 0241 888.766.0008
Experian: PO Box 9532, Allen TX, 75013 888.397.3742
TransUnion: P.O Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790 800.680.7289
File a Police Report.
Contact a local law enforcement official. Keep a copy of the report for your records, as this is an important piece of information should your personal information be misused.
Order a New Driver’s License.
In all likelihood, when your wallet was stolen, your driver’s license or identification card went with it. While the process of getting a new license varies from state to state, in Nebraska, you must go to your closest treasurer’s office with other proof of identification, listing your name and date of birth. Your original birth certificate is a must if you are under the age of 18.
What else was in your wallet? If you have photocopies of its contents, it makes things easier. If not, the usual suspects include health insurance cards, library cards, gym membership cards, and loyalty program cards.
Also, while you should NEVER carry your Social Security card with you, notify the Social Security Administration immediately should you lose this critical identifying information.
As with many financial matters, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Assume the worst, plan ahead and “clean house” – so that an inconvenience doesn’t become a disaster.