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The How-To Lounge: When Your Wallet Is Lost or Stolen

The feeling in the pit of your stomach you get upon learning your wallet’s missing is about as awful as it gets. But knowing how to properly handle the situation can make a world of difference. Recently, I helped my friend through this mess, so let me share the truly invaluable tips I learned. To get the information just


  • First, determine that your wallet is in fact gone. It sounds silly, but trust me, you don’t want to go through the hassle unless it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Call your credit card company immediately. If you can, provide them with the last time you know that you had it on you. The sooner you get in touch with them the faster you can make sure nothing is charged.
  • Many stores often allow purchases on debit cards without asking for proper ID or a pin number. Get online and make sure there are no weird purchases taking place in your checking account. Then call your bank and ask for new checking and savings account numbers.
  • File a police report as soon as possible. In the likelihood that your ID ends up getting used or a stolen item purchased on your cards is sold, it’s important to have this information on file.
  • Consider using a purse with a zipper or at the very least, make sure your purse is always tucked under your arm. A purse with a large opening is prime territory for pickpockets.
  • And some last reminders: Do not keep your social security card in your wallet; make copies of all your personal information (ID, social security card, birth certificate, and passport); never leave your purse unattended!


Join The Conversation
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that this is all good advice but at times, it's easier said than done. i know that for myself - i'm used to needing to provide multiple forms of ID so that's why i have my SS card in my wallet, and you're right i shouldn't keep it with everything, but that's a habit that i'll have to break. also, i know the websites for my credit cards but i don't always know the number for the companies - so if i'm not by a computer, i think that i'd be at a loss for what to do. is there a suggestion that you have for those of us who don't usually carry the 1-800 numbers for our credit cards?
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 8 years
I'm so glad this has never happened to me. I always have my purse in my hand or attached to me. If I'm not carrying a purse I just throw my cards and my ID in my pocket. I think it's important to point out that you might want your credit card info in places besides on your phone because if you lose your whole purse your phone is in there. Credit card companies are usually assholes and give you a hard time if you can't give them your credit card number or the last time you used it.
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 8 years
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 8 years
I left my purse at a movie theater three years ago and I guess somone stole it because it wasn't there when I went to look for it. Thankfully, I only had a couple bucks in my wallet and I didn't have a debit card at that point, so they didn't really get any money from me. But they had my driver's license, my house key, my car key, and my cell phone. So I had to reapply for a driver's license (and I had to drive around a few days without one), change the house locks, get a copy of the car key, and buy a crappy new cell phone. The only thing I was worried about was that they had my address (from my driver's license) and that my car is not parked in a garage, so they could just find my house and take the car in the driveway if they wanted to (since you can't change the locks on your car). But thankfully (again) nothing happened.
classicsugar classicsugar 8 years
One more step: make sure to file a report with the three major credit agencies (you can go to one website that will notify all three). They'll send you alerts if anyone tries to open a credit card, etc. under your name and will be able to monitor your report for signs of fraud in case your identity is stolen.
janellethechef janellethechef 8 years
I lost my ID and debit card at the St. Patricks Day parade this year...or at one of several bars and several parties we also went to that day! So basically impossible to retrace my steps to exactly where they disappeared!! Factor in the one or two (or eight) green beers I'd had that day...and it was quite the mess! Trying to figure out exactly who to call to report the debit card lost was a little difficult, because I use a local bank...fortunately my parents use the same bank so I called Mom to give me the number off the back of her card! is difficult to cancel a card when you don't know the number...I now keep this information programed in my cell phone with the lost card phone number!! Another good tip would be to make sure they order you a new debit/credit card when you cancel the lost/stolen one! I would have thought that they do this automatically...but you have to specify that you want a new one! I didn't realize this until 2 weeks later -- at which point I had to spend $40 to expedite my new card! Amazingly, in my case, some good Samaritan actually found my cards and mailed them to me! They came in the mail the same day that I went to the DPS to get a new drivers license and the day after I had spent the $40 to have the new card expedited! Moral of the story...don't loose crap when you're drunk!
aistea311 aistea311 8 years
I always keep a copy of my ID and passport at home. As for my cards, I have those numbers programmed in my phone and saved in my gmail to cancel the accounts.
ikimashokie ikimashokie 8 years
Interesting, I didn't file a police report after I lost mine in January. I wonder if it's too late. My mom and I figured that since I'd reported everything missing, the most they got out of it was maybe a license that *maybe* looked like someone they knew that was under 21, 128 dollars. I still hope that whatever they bought with that $128 falls apart. Perhaps there should be a "post ads to local pages/craigslist" bullet as well.
Marni7 Marni7 8 years
Thanks for these tips! Ironically, my student worker just lost her wallet this weekend, so I am sending her these right now!
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