October 13, 2021 6 min read
Losing your wallet is never fun. Whether you have cash, a bunch of credit cards you’ll need to replace, or your picture ID, it’s totally natural to want to wait for your wallet to turn up. But being proactive about a lost wallet can save you a lot of headaches down the line.
So, whether you’ve recently realized that your wallet’s gone missing or you’re just trying to plan ahead in a worst-case scenario, following these 10 steps is a must when losing your wallet.
These days, it’s not always necessary to cancel your credit cards and wait several weeks for a replacement if they turn up lost. Instead, you can simply “lock” your credit cards. This means that no charges will be approved — whether the card is being used in-person or online. But you can just as easily “unlock” it and resume using it.
Why is this the best option? Well, if you simply misplaced your wallet at the last place you visited, then you’re sure to find it quickly. But during your search, you want all the peace of mind you can get.
If you don’t want another person to go on a shopping spree in your name, then locking your credit cards will make that impossible while you search for your missing wallet.
Of course, not all credit card companies offer this option. If that’s the case, call the credit card company ASAP and let them know that you lost your wallet. Once you make the report, not only will the credit card be unusable, but you’ll be off the hook for any fraudulent charges.
Now that your credit limit is protected, you can start searching for your lost wallet. We all make slip-ups, and it’s not uncommon to leave wallets at cashier registers, restaurants, and bars. Sometimes, they can even slip out our pockets and end up wedged in the seat of the car.
We know it’s not ground-breaking advice, but retracing your steps is the best way to find your missing wallet. Most stores even have a lost-and-found you can check out.
If your search is unsuccessful, it’s not impossible for it to show up in the mail. After all, people have a tendency to return missing wallets — especially if there’s cash involved.
Making a report with the police won’t launch a full investigation into your missing wallet, but it can increase the chances of it being returned to you. If you happened to drop your wallet on the street and don’t have any contact information in your wallet, then the person who finds it is very unlikely to drop it off at the nearest precinct.
By making a police report, you’re offering your contact information which can make returning your wallet to you much faster.
Another reason to make a police report is to protect yourself from identity theft. Let’s say your wallet was, in fact, stolen. The thief could try to open up a line of credit in your name, and that can be hard to dispute if there’s no record of your ID and credit cards going missing.
But with a police report, it will be much harder for credit bureaus to dispute you being a victim of identity theft.
Now that your credit cards are locked and you have a police report filed, it’s time to move on to the next important step: preventing interruptions in your digital subscriptions.
Whether it’s news, music, or movie streaming, you want to make a list of all your accounts and update it with new credit card information. This can be available to you as soon as the day you report your credit cards lost. Some credit card companies issue you a credit card number that you can use while waiting for the physical card to arrive in the mail.
If this isn’t an option for you, then you can use other payment options for keeping your subscriptions free of interruptions. Options such as PayPal or Venmo can be linked to your checking account, which allows you to make purchases without a credit card.
Going to the DMV — for any reason — is definitely not our idea of fun.
Fortunately, some states allow you to request a replacement online. As for the not-so-good news, if your driver’s license or state ID card has been lost (and not stolen), then you might have to pay a small replacement fee.
If your state does not allow you to replace a lost driver’s license so easily, then look at the bright side of showing up at the DMV: getting a new picture. Looking good in your state ID is notoriously hard, so we appreciate every chance we get to improve on the process.
While it’s unlikely that someone will commit fraud with your health insurance card, it’s not exactly impossible. For this reason, it’s important to call your health insurance company and report your health insurance card stolen so that you’re off the hook for any unauthorized charges.
Luckily, your replacement health insurance card should be available to view online while you wait. So, if you have a doctor’s appointment shortly after losing your wallet, you can always show them the digital copy.
Thanks to the self-check-out that’s available at libraries these days, losing your library card is another possible way to end up paying for something you didn’t do. Although it’s unlikely, you don’t want someone to check out a bunch of books in your name and never return them.
For this reason, try to cancel your library card as soon as you can and ask for a replacement. Many libraries allow you to do this online, saving you from having to make a trip to the physical branch.
Luckily, all store cards are linked to your online account with them, so you won’t lose any points along with a lost card.
To help make replacing these cards easier, make a list of all the stores you have a membership with and contact the retailers when you can. Along the way, you can even decide that you don’t need a card with a certain store and cancel your membership.
If you’re worried about becoming a victim of identity fraud, then you can put out a 90-day fraud alert to make opening a credit account in your name a difficult endeavor. Simply contact one of the three main credit reporting agencies and place an alert on your account.
If you want the alert to last longer than 90 days, it can be extended indefinitely until you feel safe about your identity.
While a fraud alert would make it slightly harder for anyone to open up a new line of credit in your name, a sure way to prevent this completely is by instituting a credit freeze. Reversing a credit freeze is a bit difficult. However, it can give you the biggest peace of mind if you think you might have your identity stolen.
Losing your wallet sucks. But look on the bright side: You get to buy yourself a new wallet. And this time, you can get yourself something that’s much harder to lose.
When it comes to getting a new wallet, make sure that it’s:
Losing your wallet can be seriously stressful. But if you follow the above steps in a systematic order, then you’ll be well on your way to replacing lost credit cards, IDs, and store cards, while grabbing a new (and improved) wallet.
Our Sources:What you should know about how RFID cards work — and how to protect them | The Seattle Times