Losing a Wallet
Joe and Vicki Kieva
Do you know what to do if your wallet is lost or stolen? Who would you notify? How would you get along until the contents were replaced?
Take a look at the contents of your wallet. In addition to those cute pictures of your kids and grandkids you’ll probably find cash, credit cards, driver’s license, Social Security card, health insurance card, library card, discount cards, membership cards, telephone calling card, and important phone numbers. The contents of your wallet provide you with the information you need to accomplish everyday tasks.
Those same contents also provide a thief with all the information they need to steal your identity, run up bills in your name and destroy your credit.
You can minimize or even prevent this kind of damage by preparing a list of the contents of your wallet and the phone numbers to call if your wallet is lost or stolen.
First, weed out and update the contents of your wallet. Get rid of those expired cards, old receipts and out-of-date discount coupons. And, think about it, is there any reason for you to carry your Social Security card in your wallet?
Next, place the contents of your wallet on a copying machine and make two copies of each side of your cards and documents. The front of your credit cards provide the account number. The back has an 800 number to report the card lost or stolen. The phone numbers may not be legible on the photocopy, so make a notation of them on the copies with a pen. While you are at it, make a note on the photocopies of the phone numbers you should call to replace each of the other documents (driver’s license, membership cards, etc.).
The photocopies should also include the telephone numbers of the three national credit reporting organizations:
- Equifax (800) 525-6285
- Experian (TRW) (800)
- Trans Union (800) 680-7289
- and the Social Security Administration’s fraud line (800) 269-0271
Put one of the copies in a secure place at home and the other in a safe place in your RV. You don’t want the information on the photocopies to get into the wrong hands. Now, if you do lose your wallet, you can quickly cancel its contents, protect your credit, and arrange replacements by referring to the photocopy. You will also have a duplicate of any important papers or lists you carry in your wallet.
If your wallet does get lost or stolen, here’s what you want to do:
Notify the credit card companies to cancel your credit cards. This should prevent anyone from using them.
Notify the three national credit reporting organizations to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. That way, any business that checks your credit knows they have to contact you by telephone before they authorize new credit or open new accounts in your name.
Notify the Social Security Administration to prevent identification fraud.
File a police report in the jurisdiction where the wallet was lost or stolen. Not only is it the first step in an investigation, it proves diligence on your part to the credit providers.
By the way, when you cancel the credit cards in your wallet you are also canceling those same credit cards in your spouse’s wallet. Your credit card company will quickly issue you new cards and send them to your home address. That’s fine if you are at home. But, what if you are miles from home on an RVing vacation trip? Will you be able to continue, even temporarily, without your credit cards?
Here’s a thought. Most couples have both a MasterCard and a Visa card. Have one spouse carry the MasterCard but not the Visa card, and the other spouse carry the Visa card but not the MasterCard. If you have to cancel the credit cards in one wallet, you can continue to use the still-valid cards in the other wallet. If this is not convenient, or you do not have a travel companion, perhaps you can stash a backup credit card (that neither spouse carries) in your RV.
Hopefully, you won’t need that precautionary list. But, if the your wallet is lost or stolen, you’ll be prepared.