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Four Things To Do When You Lose Your Wallet

It’s probably happened to you before; panic sets in as you start rifling through bags and drawers. While your hands go a mile a minute, so does your mind as you try to retrace your steps and remember exactly where you could have left it. That’s right, your wallet is gone.

What a headache... Losing your wallet opens you to a plethora of issues, such as identity theft, fraud, and even home invasions. Fixing the problem, however, doesn’t have to be a pain.

People lose their wallets all the time. In fact, it’s so common that you could be back up and running in under an hour if you follow these four steps:

1. Immediately Cancel Your Debit or Credit Cards

While credit cards have amazing protections on them in the case of fraud, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You will have new cards within seven to ten business days, and in the mean time you can grab some cash from the bank. (You’ve probably lost your ID as well, so you will need to verify some account information first.)

2. Report The Loss to the Police

You may hesitate if it’s worth involving the police, but rest assured, it is. Whether you lost your wallet or somebody stole it, filing a report as soon as possible will prove your efforts if you need to dispute any fraud down the line. They may also be kind enough to increase the officer presence near your home for a little while.

3. Contact The Credit Bureaus

This is the step most people forget. One of your biggest risks in losing your wallet is identity theft. Rather than use your cards, which have probably been canceled, thieves could use your information to apply for new credit, especially if you keep your social security card in your wallet (which you should never do).

When you place a fraud alert with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, lenders are then supposed to verify your identity before opening a new account. And if you did lose your social security card, you can order a new one here. Even if you haven't lost your wallet, identity theft protection is a great idea these days. Most programs come with not only insurance for associated costs of identity theft, but also support staff to help you dispute fraud if and when it happens.

4. Replace Your ID

This might take a bit more time, but the relief of knowing the ordeal is almost over should help you through those sometimes frustrating DMV lines.

To make the process even easier, try leaving the bare minimum in your wallet. Leave some credit cards locked up at home, never have your social security card in your wallet, and make photocopies of the items you do keep with you. Although losing your wallet can be scary, frustrating, and anxiety-ridden, it doesn’t have to be. Remaining calm and completing these four steps as soon as possible will have you right back in your comfort zone.

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Elisabeth Chan's picture

Elisabeth Chan is Creditnet's resident credit card expert. Elisabeth graduated Magna Cum Laude from Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Business.

When she's not rating and reviewing credit cards, Elisabeth enjoys gushing over her daughter (who is her exact clone), eating out (sushi and Chinese are favs), or attempting to conquer the pilates reformer machine (so far, all attempts have been futile).

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