1. Call Your Debit Card Issuer
Anyone who gets hold of your debit card can do a lot of damage quickly. When losing your wallet (or if it is stolen), your first step should be to call the credit union or whichever financial institution issued your debit card to you. Let them know you think your card may have been stolen. The financial institution will usually cancel your card right away and issue you a new one with a different account number. They may review any recent purchases listed on your account with you to determine if you made the purchases or if they were fraudulent charges.
2. Contact Your Credit Card Companies
Call your credit card companies to let them know you lost your wallet and your credit cards. You don't want to close or cancel your credit account with them, as this could affect your credit reports. Instead, request your credit card companies suspend your current cards and issue you new ones.
3. Activate Fraud Alerts
Set up fraud alerts as soon as possible once you realize your wallet is lost or stolen. You can do this through the major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) or the credit union.
4. File a Police Report
It's very important you file a police report to ensure you're protected against identity theft. Once you file a police report, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, and you can fill out an Identity Theft Affidavit. This document allows you to prove to businesses and creditors that you were a victim of identity theft.
5. Report Your Social Security Card Stolen or Lost
While you should never carry your Social Security card in your wallet, if you did have your card in your wallet, you’ll want to be extra vigilant. You can receive a new card through the Social Security Administration, but it will be unlikely that you receive a new number. New numbers are typically provided in extreme cases only. As a result, it’s highly recommended that you enroll in identity theft protection if your Social Security card is stolen.
6. Check for Unusual Activities on Your Credit Reports
Should you lose your wallet, you must review your credit report to ensure nobody uses your identity to apply for loans or open new credit lines without you knowing. You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) at www.AnnualCreditReport.com to verify all activity.
7. List All Contents of Your Wallet
Chances are, like most individuals, you were carrying many different cards in your wallet. While some aren't that significant, such as punch cards for free gas or coffee, others are, for example, your health insurance cards. Make a list of everything you were carrying in your wallet and begin replacing what you absolutely require.
8. Freeze Your Credit
When you freeze your credit report, lenders are blocked from accessing your credit report. Should fraudsters attempt to open a loan in your name, the lender will be unable to pull your credit and, likewise, be unable to grant the loan. You can place a freeze on your credit report by contacting each of the three major credit bureaus (www.Equifax.com, www.Experian.com, and www.TransUnion.com). You can remove the freeze whenever you choose.
9. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles
If your driver’s license was lost or stolen, you’ll want to obtain a new one by contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles. The requirements for getting a new license vary by state, so be sure to visit your local DMV website to determine what documentation is necessary. If you filed a police report due to your wallet being stolen, bring a copy of the report with you to the DMV.
10. Consider Taking Out Identity Theft Protection
Even if you've canceled your debit and credit cards, you could still be susceptible to fraud. Thieves can steal your identity by using other items in your wallet, such as your driver’s license or health insurance cards. You may want to consider enrolling in identity theft protection and credit monitoring services for a year to ensure you’re safe. In exchange for the monthly fee, you’ll have greater peace of mind knowing your financial accounts and credit score are protected.
We’re Here to Help!
Losing your wallet is both frustrating and scary and is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If your wallet was recently lost or stolen, please contact the credit union immediately by calling (949) 588-9400 or stopping by any of our branch locations. Our team will walk you through the steps you’ll need to take to mitigate potential financial loss and prevent identity theft.
Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact the Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.
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