Here's What To Do When You Lose Your Wallet
Losing your wallet can be extremely stressful. A stolen wallet is even worse. Whether your wallet has been stolen or misplaced, this guide will explain how to reduce the risk of fraud.
COVID-related fraud has cost American consumers nearly $965 million in losses to date [*]. Last year alone, 47% of Americans experienced financial identity theft, which often starts with a stolen wallet, stolen smartphone, or lost check book.
If your wallet is lost or stolen, you no longer have access to the credit cards, debit cards and ID that you rely on daily.
Repairing this situation can be aggravating. You’ll need to cancel any credit card accounts and debit cards that were left in your lost or stolen wallet.
You’ll also need to call various credit card companies, insurance companies, and credit bureaus to protect yourself against fraud.
While this is a frustrating experience, it's important to take a deep breath and remain calm. Maintain your composure and stay grounded as you attempt to recover your lost or stolen wallet.
12 Steps to Recover a Lost or Stolen Wallet
1. Retrace your steps and search for your lost wallet
If you lose your wallet, immediately search all the areas you frequent to see if you've misplaced it. Retrace your steps and double check that your wallet is actually lost. This will save you a lot of hassle before you start canceling credit cards and opening new accounts.
Check under your bed, behind the couch, along the side of your car seats, and even your jacket pockets. It's possible you misplaced your wallet somewhere, and did not actually lose it.
Check your gym, work office and recently visited restaurants to see if anyone has turned in a lost wallet. If your wallet is still missing, take precautions to prevent identity fraud, especially if you recognize any of the major warning signs.
2. List everything you keep inside your wallet
Okay, so your wallet is definitely missing. Now what? Make a list of everything you keep in your wallet and start drafting a recovery plan.
Your list should include debit cards, credit cards, airline loyalty cards, your driver’s license, health insurance card, auto insurance card, and social security card.
After you've assembled a list of lost items, call each entity one by one to prevent fraud. (This can take hours).
We get it. Looking up each company’s phone number, calling them and waiting for customer support is an inconvenience. But keep in mind, the consequences of identity theft are much worse! So take action and don’t leave anything to chance.
3. Call your bank
Contact your bank immediately. Report your debit card as lost or stolen. Your bank will cancel your lost debit card and issue you another debit card with a new card number.
In the event of bank fraud, you may need to cancel your bank account and open a brand new account with new account numbers. It’s a hassle to transfer everything to new bank accounts, but it’s worth it.
Remember that if you wait over 60 days to report theft, you may be held responsible for unauthorized purchases. Most financial service companies are very supportive when it comes to handling fraud, as long as you’ve demonstrated fast action to resolve any issues.
Banks like Wells Fargo and American Express have produced helpful documentation you can review if you are a victim of fraud. You can also follow the fraud victim's checklist for step-by-step instructions on what to do next.
4. Call your credit card company
You’ll need to repeat the steps you took with your bank, and call your credit card issuer. That means canceling any lost assets and opening new credit cards with new card numbers. Don't ignore small unknown charges, either. Hackers will "validate" stolen credit card numbers by making small purchases first (this is known as carding).
Tell your credit lender that the credit card is lost, and possibly stolen. If a thief attempts to use your card to make fraudulent purchases, you won’t be held responsible.
5. Freeze your credit
The next step is initiating a credit freeze. You’ll need to manually contact the three major credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
The credit bureaus will place a fraud alert on your account to prevent scammers from hurting your credit score or opening new accounts in your name.
It’s important to note that a credit freeze prevents you from accessing your credit report or applying for loans with new lenders until the credit freeze is over.
Of course, Aura can streamline this process by proactively alerting you to possible identity theft or credit fraud while limiting damage to your credit score. Rather than calling the three credit bureaus manually, Aura can handle this for you.
With Aura, Here's What You'll Get:
- Credit Lock: Secure your credit from unwanted inquiries by locking your credit with Experian.
- Credit Reports: Get monthly updates and annual credit reports from the major credit bureaus.
- Financial Transaction Monitoring: Link your bank accounts and set alerts on spending activity to proactively stop the different types of financial fraud.
- Bank Account Monitoring: Get a fraud alert if any unauthorized persons tries to tamper with your bank account or commit any bank scams.
- Lost Wallet Remediation: If your wallet is lost or stolen, we’ll help you cancel any debit or credit cards and work with you on a recovery plan to secure your sensitive information.
- $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance: Every Aura plan comes with an insurance policy that covers eligible losses due to identity theft.
📌 Read Aura's frequently asked questions to learn more. →
6. Change your passwords and enable 2FA
At this point, it’s a safe bet to update your passwords and initiate two-factor authentication (2FA) on any mobile apps you use for online banking.
If you’re one of those people that reuse the same password for every online account you have, now is the perfect opportunity to improve your password health.
Try Aura’s secure password manager to streamline your password management. Don’t store any sensitive passwords in your Google Chrome password manager, as these will become exposed if your Google account is hacked.
7. Update auto-pay accounts
Once you receive your new credit cards, update the payment details of all your online subscriptions, especially your auto-pay accounts. If you have any back up credit cards that were not stored in your lost wallet, you can complete this step immediately.
Manually updating all your auto-pay accounts is an annoying process. Especially if you have a lot of online accounts, but it’s well worth the time spent.
Review all the online accounts you use on a monthly basis — from utility providers to eCommerce sites and subscription services.
Updating your online subscriptions with new credit card details will eliminate missed payments and prevent service disruptions. Avoiding missed payments will also prevent your credit score from taking a hit.
Related: Lost Credit Card? Do This ASAP →
8. File a police report
If your wallet is lost or stolen, visit your local police department and file a police report to document that your wallet is missing. You'll get a case number and documentation to show creditors as evidence if you experience fraud.
If you fail to file a police report, creditors may not believe that you are the victim of fraud. Creditors may request an Identity Theft Affidavit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You won't be eligible for this documentation without a police report.
9. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
Next, request a replacement driver's license by visiting your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Keep in mind that your identity can be stolen if someone has your ID. Alerting the DMV is a crucial step in preventing identity fraud and getting your life back to normal.
Remember that each state has different requirements for proof of identity. Before applying for a new driver's license, check your local DMV's website and confirm which documents are required to prove your identity.
You’ll need to provide proof of residency. Bring paperwork with your name on it such as your birth certificate, Social Security number and a utility bill. The DMV office will also charge a small fee of about $5 to replace your license.
If you filed a police report, the DMV may waive any replacement card fees. Especially if there's clear evidence that someone stole your driver's license.
10. Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA)
If you made the mistake of carrying your Social Security card in your wallet, then you'll need to request a replacement Social Security card from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The SSA will issue you a replacement card but generally won't change your Social Security number unless you can prove that someone else used your Social Security number to commit identity theft.
Providing the SSA with a copy of your police report may convince them to provide you with a new social security number, but it's not guaranteed.
Finally, never carry your Social Security cards in your wallet! If your wallet gets stolen, criminals will have access to your family's SSN. This is a golden opportunity for them to commit personal or child identity fraud.
11. Get identity theft protection
If you lose your wallet, you're at risk for all different types of identity theft. Especially if your lost wallet contains your driver's license or Social Security card.
So, how can you proactively monitor your identity and protect your personal data? The best offense is a great defense. That's where Aura's identity theft protection comes in.
Aura will continuously scan and monitor your personal information to let you know if:
- Your personal information is exposed in a data breach or the Dark Web.
- Unauthorized wire transfers are initiated from your bank account.
- New bank accounts or credit cards are opened in your name.
- Your personal information is discovered in criminal or court records.
If you have no idea what to do if your identity is stolen, Aura offers White-Glove Fraud Remediation support. We'll guide you through the process of dealing with credit card companies and credit bureaus if you become a victim of fraud.
All Aura plans include an identity theft insurance policy that covers up to $1,000,000 in eligible losses associated with identity theft — visit Aura’s identity theft insurance overview page to learn more.
Related: Aura vs. LifeLock Comparison: 2023 Showdown →
12. Review Your Credit History
Finally, it's time to review your credit report in greater detail. It's critical to ensure no one has applied for unauthorized loans in your name.
Aura can help you review your credit report and answer any questions about your credit file. We combine data from all three credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
If we detect unauthorized activity on your credit report, we can alert the three credit bureaus and initiate a credit freeze on your behalf.
The Bottom Line: Keep Your Wallet Light
A lost or stolen wallet is inevitable. Reduce your risk of fraud by only carrying the most necessary items.
Don't carry a packed wallet full of credit cards, debit cards, and important ID cards. If your wallet goes missing, you'll lose everything in one swipe.
The fewer credit cards and IDs you carry, the better. If you lose your wallet, you won't lose hours calling credit card issuers and government agencies. You'll also minimize the risk of identity theft if criminals discover your wallet.
For ultimate peace of mind, try an identity theft protection service like Aura. We'll monitor and alert you to fraud before it happens, not after it's too late.