What to Do if Your Wallet is Stolen

Courtesy of scambusters.org, here are the five steps to take — in order — if your credit card or wallet is stolen:

Step 1. The first step is something you should do NOW — before anything goes wrong: Make copies of all your credit cards, ID cards and licenses — everything in your wallet.

If you think you’re immune from having your credit cards stolen, you’re wrong. We hope it never happens to you, but it certainly could, and your experience will be less traumatic if you are prepared.

Make sure you photocopy both sides of all your cards, and/or list your account numbers, and the toll free phone numbers you’d need to call to report them missing. Keep this photocopy in a separate, safe place.

If you’ve already done this in the past, have you updated it lately? Is a copy of everything in your wallet included?

Step 2. The second thing to do is call the companies that issued your credit cards to report the theft. Do this as soon as you discover the problem. Use the toll free number — most companies are available 24 hours a day to deal with these emergencies. Write down the name of each person you speak with.

It’s a good idea to follow up each of your phone calls with a letter (you can do this after you complete Step 5 — it’s not as time critical). Summarize your phone conversation, including your name, account number, when you noticed that your card was missing, the date you first reported the loss via phone, and the name of the person you spoke with.

Alternatively, you can purchase a credit card registration service for an annual fee and register your account numbers with this service. Then, you only have to make one phone call to report all card losses (rather than calling each individual issuer). Many services also will request replacement credit cards on your behalf.

We believe these services are pricey for what they offer, but some people appreciate the service. If you go this route, compare offers since they do vary. In any event, you do need to make sure you keep your info up to date with the registration service, or it won’t help you.

Step 3. Next, call the three national credit-reporting agencies to report the theft, and ask them to attach a ‘fraud alert’ to all your credit cards. Here are the three agencies and their numbers:

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742

Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289

Step 4. If your social security card is missing, call the Social Security Administration (fraud line) at 1-800-269-0271. Also, be sure the Motor Vehicles Bureau about your drivers license, as well as any other organizations from which you lost cards.

Step 5. Next, call the police in the jurisdiction where your credit card(s) was stolen to report the theft.

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