Ten Things to do When Your Wallet is Stolen

When your wallet is lost or stolen, a lot is at stake :

  • One client lost her wallet in a cab
  • Another had his wallet stolen from his outside jacket pocket

The loss of wallets full of the information that can be used for identity theft is bothersome and frightening. If theft or loss occurs for one of your clients or family members, there are some immediate steps to take:

1. Most importantly, keep good records of everything you do in dealing with the authorities and financial companies. Keep a log of all conversations, including dates, names, and phone numbers. Note the time you spend and any expenses incurred in case you are able to seek restitution in a later judgment or conviction against the thief. You may be able to obtain tax deductions for theft-related expenses. Confirm all conversations in writing. Send correspondence using certified mail with return receipt requested. Keep copies of all letters and documents.

2. Credit Cards Contact credit card companies and cancel missing cards. Request replacement cards with new account numbers. If there are regular monthly debits to any of the credit cards, call the service providers directly (newspaper, charitable donations, etc.) and suspend charges until new credit cards arrive.

3. ATM Cards Contact bank and fill out a fraud affidavit. Get a new card, account number, and password. Do not use your old password. Start with a phone call and immediately follow up in writing. Closely monitor your account statements. You may be liable if the fraud is not reported quickly. Be sure to read the debit card contract for information about liability. Some cards are better protected in cases of fraud than others.

4. Police Report the situation to the police. Get a copy of the police report, which is called an "identity theft report." Keep the phone number of your investigator handy and give it to creditors and others who require verification of your case.

5. Credit Reports Immediately report the situation to the fraud department of the three credit reporting companies - Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Placing the fraud alert means that your file will be flagged and that creditors are required to call you before extending credit. Even after reporting to the three companies, it is important to continue to monitor your credit reports. When you place fraud alerts, you can ask for free credit reports. Then in a couple of months, ask for another set of free credit reports by calling 877-322-8228, or by emailing freecreditreport.com.

6. Driver's License Contact your local DMV for replacement. Scroll to your state's information. You may need to change your driver's license number if someone is using yours as ID on bad checks or for other types of fraud. Call the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if another license was issued in your name. Fill out the DMV's complaint form to begin the investigation process. Send supporting documents with the completed form to the nearest DMV investigation office. Put a fraud alert on your license if your state's DMV provides a fraud alert process. Replacement licenses can be ordered online (for a fee $17.50 in New York State) or for free by going to the Department of Motor Vehicles in person.

Dependent upon what else is missing, here is who to contact for more help.

7. Social Security Contact Social Security and ask for a card replacement. Either complete the SSA's application online, or by calling the SSA at (800)772-1213, or by visiting your local SSA office.

8. Medicare Contact Social Security and ask for a card replacement.

9. Passports Whether you have a passport or not, write or email the passport office to alert them to anyone ordering a passport fraudulently.
     U.S. Department of State, Passport Services
     Consular Lost/Stolen Passport Section
     1111 19th St., NW, Suite 500
     Washington DC 20036

10. Phone Service if your calling card is missing or there are fraudulent charges, cancel it and open a new account. For your own phone accounts, add a password that must be used any time your local, cell phone, and long distance accounts are changed.

March 2010 - FEATURE
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