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What to Do When Your Wallet Is Stolen

Five Steps to Follow When Your Wallet Is Stolen

Fortunately, I've never lost my purse or wallet, but during instances where I momentarily thought that I lost my debit card or driver's license, panic surged through me. The automatic reaction when something happens that could compromise your everyday livelihood is fear and worry, but you need to overcome those sensations very quickly and focus to ensure nothing more happens. You want to be one of those people saying "it could be worse," not one who says, "they emptied my bank account and stole my identity." To see what steps you should take in the instance your purse or wallet is stolen just


  1. Call your bank and report your ATM card as stolen. Do this immediately, because your liability for money withdrawn by a thief increases within two days of the crime and you could end up with unlimited liability.
  2. Call your credit card companies and inform them that your cards have been stolen. Have your online account in front of you while making the call so that you can easily relay your last transaction. You don't want to have to rely on memory when you're already jittery from stress.
  3. Make an appointment with your DMV. It's not the best place to waste time, but toughing it out is better than getting in trouble for driving without a license.
  4. Call the credit reporting agencies and place a temporary security alert on your file. This way, if the thief tries to open any new credit in your name the lenders will be flagged to verify the identity before accepting the application.
  5. File a police report with your local precinct.


Join The Conversation
andiself andiself 9 years
My purse was stolen from my office 4 weeks before I moved out of state. I reported it IMMEDIATELY to the police. That forced me to do an inventory of what was in my purse. You will need this for the report and to file an insurance claim- yes my renter's insurance covered it. I had a purse, wallet, gift cards, ipod, NO CASH, makeup- expensive makeup, , credit cards, receipts, etc. , CAR KEYS that needed to be replaced - they cost $300! I did have a 500 dollar deductible, but the value of the whole package stolen was close to 900. I was able to at least recover the balance. Their was no activity on any of my credit cards, or bank account. I canceled all of those. The other thing I had to do was to call all of the places that automatically debit payments from my debit card so that I wouldn't miss payments. Thank god I didn't have my blackberry in my purse. The police told me that when I get to work, I should separate my car keys, wallet and phone, so if my purse is stolen, it won't be as catastrophic as it was this time.
Lilavati Lilavati 9 years
I had mine stolen once. The guy got 1$ !!!! That's all the change I had. The season tickets and IDs cost me a bit and gave him nothing. Now I keep money and documents separately. (Who got the stupid idea to keep them together anyway?) If someone has to, let him take the money, cause time wasted on damage-control is WAY more precious.
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
Good stuff to know. Thanks to everyone! I lost my wallet (my fault, going to fast!) three times while I was in college. I was nothing short of shit-kicking lucky when, each time, the person that found it contacted me and returned everything unscathed. Unfortunately, it's a different world today. :/
jb3 jb3 9 years
Great Tips as usual, Savvy! For some reason I find that picture really funny.
LadyAngel89 LadyAngel89 9 years
I keep credit card numbers and their company phone numbers from the back, and any other important information in my wallet (like Insurance numbers and ID numbers and any other irreplaceable information) written down and in a firesafe in my home. Don't forget about insurance companies, if they've got your social security card and your id essentially they can be you.
princessjaslew princessjaslew 9 years
i've lost my wallet many many times. and each time it is a BIG BIG pain. that's why i only have a max of 2 credit cards and my check card (which is linked to my savings) stays AT HOME!
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 9 years
good advice. this has never happened to me but I would want to know what to do if it did!
randomname12345 randomname12345 9 years
I can imagine few things more traumatizing than having your wallet stolen. I'll continue keeping a close eye on my personal belongings in public. But thanks for the tips so I know what to do if *knock on wood* that should happen.
mlen mlen 9 years
i lost my wallet once- what a pain. i reccommend going through your wallet now and making a list of all phone numbers for all your credit cards and health cards and such. at least that way if you lose it you don't have to scramble to find numbers- you can just go down the list.
nycactres nycactres 9 years
I got mugged and had to do that. If you have a police report you get a new free license.
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
Really GREAT advice. I acutally thought I forgot my debit card and I started freaking out. But, I just ended up leaving it in my car. :P Those were like the worst 5 minutes ever.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Great reminders...
Taadie Taadie 9 years
i wouldnt have immediately thought to call the agencies so thanks for putting that in there. i think that is a step many people wouldnt think about.
ALSW ALSW 9 years
Definitely great advice!
shanimalcracker shanimalcracker 9 years
This is great advice! I just got my wallet stolen at the Palatine in Italy and I was so stressed out since I was abroad. Right away, I found an internet cafe and canceled my credit cards (which is frustrating because you can't do it online and need to call). I still need to get a new driver's license, which frustrates me because I really liked the picture on my old one!
SkinnyMarie SkinnyMarie 9 years
I had my wallet stolen near last christmas while I went to the bathroom at my job. Luckily I caught it within a few hours, but they still managed to charge $1800 at kmart...Way to check that signature kmart!, but I did everything you said within 2 hours and got everything back. If you bank card gets stolen, it can take some time for them to give you back your money.
bythesea bythesea 9 years
It's never happened to me either, but my sister did get her entire purse and wallet stolen. Luckily she did pretty much what is recommended above so nothing horrible came out of it, but of course the whole thing was pretty upsetting
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
Great advice Savvy, this has happened to me once. It is not the cards or money but the lost of ID makes things harder. Now I have a DL and a state ID. I keep the state ID at home just in case something like this happens. Another great tip: Makes copies of the front and back of your credit cards, so that you have all the information at home in a safe place.
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