You just got a promotion, so you and your partner decide to celebrate by enjoying a fancy dinner at your favorite restaurant. The meal is exquisite, the conversation engaging. As the evening winds down, you ask for the check, and…you can’t find your wallet.
Not exactly the ideal ending to an otherwise wonderful night. But it really doesn’t matter where you are when your wallet goes missing. The feeling’s the same – gut-wrenching anxiety.
But you’re not alone. Almost everybody suffers through this traumatic experience at least once in their life. Whether the loss is temporary or permanent, the good news is that there are ways to cushion the blow.
Once you realize that your wallet has disappeared, take stock of what was in it. If you had credit cards in there, contact the card issuers immediately and report them as missing. By law, if your credit card is compromised, credit card companies can only hold you accountable for the first $50 worth of charges that occur before it’s reported to them. So, if you report your missing card ASAP, before any fraud takes place, you won’t be responsible for any unauthorized charges. Once you’ve reported your card missing, the credit card company will likely place a hold on the card and issue you a new one.
In the case of missing ATM and debit cards, your liability for unauthorized use depends on how quickly you report the loss. If you report your cards as missing before they’re used without your permission, the financial institution cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized transfers, according to federal law. To report a lost or stolen Bank5 Connect debit card, call us immediately at 1-855-552-2655 during regular business hours. If you need to report a missing card after hours, you can call our 24/7 support center at 1-800-472-3272.
And don’t forget about your driver’s license! You’ll need to contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to report the loss and order a replacement card.
If you were unfortunate enough to have been carrying around your Social Security card (or number) in your wallet, you’ll have a bit more cleaning up to do. First, you should report the loss of your Social Security card or number by calling the IRS Identity Protection Unit at 1-800-908-4490, the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-ID-THEFT, and you should also file an online report at IdentityTheft.gov.
You should also contact each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) to have a fraud alert or credit freeze placed on your credit report. A fraud alert will require creditors to verify your identity before approving any new credit, and a credit freeze restricts all access to your credit report (until you lift the freeze). Both can be vital in stopping someone from fraudulently applying for credit in your name with your compromised Social Security number. And luckily, placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit report does not negatively impact your credit score.
It’s also a good idea to file a report with your local law enforcement agency. In the event that you fall victim to identity theft down the road, a copy of your police report could serve as evidence in a fraud investigation.
To help prevent an identity theft disaster resulting from a lost or stolen wallet, security experts suggest keeping your wallet on a “lean diet” – that is, only keep what you absolutely need in it. For instance, one credit card and/or debit card, your driver’s license, your health insurance identification card, and one or two other “must have” items. And remember to NEVER carry around your Social Security card or Social Security number, or any Personal Identification Numbers (PINs). Having these items in your wallet is just an invitation for trouble.