CC by allie(TM) on flickr
As I promised in a tweet a while back, I'm going to share what I learned when I lost my wallet recently. I suspect
loosing one's wallet is kind of like loosing one's hard drive...
it's more or less inevitable,
so the more prepared one is for this eventuality, the less painful it will be. Fortunately, I was somewhat prepared.
The first advice I heeded was:
Make photocopies of the contents of your wallet. The next time you go into the UPS store to ship something, take a minute to make a copy. Take all of the cards out and lay them on the glass, then flip them over and do the other side.
Put the copies in your Vital Records binder. What? You don't have one? Sounds like I just got my topic for my next post. (High five for those that know what I'm talking about!)
Then, of course, came the round of phone calls.
Report lost credit and debit cards. Not all cards are FedEx-ed to you overnight, like American Express does. So be prepared to go without for a week to ten days. Which leads me to the next suggestion:
Keep at least one credit or debit card at home, so you have something to use while waiting for replacements.
Call up all of the automatic payment or debit account holders. In my case this included the gym, a charity, and my on-line calorie-counter. You'll need to give them another card number, which is another reason to have a card at home. If you don't have a list of your automatic-payment accounts, check you last statements. (And start a list, while you are at it!)
Put a stop payment on any checks you had in your wallet. My bank does not charge for lost checks as long as they didn't have anything written on them. I was dismayed to discover that checks partially written out cost me $36.00 each to stop payment!
I called my bank when I was still in my car, so wasn't sure of the exact check numbers. They were able to tell me the last one that had been cashed, and I extrapolated from there. If you do the same, be sure to go home and void any checks that you have stopped payment on.
Notify the credit reporting agencies. It's very easy to put a "freeze" on your accounts. This means that if an identity thief tries to open an account with somebody, and they try to get a credit rating, they won't be able to. You can also put a "fraud alert" notification. I did a freeze on all three accounts online, costing $3.00 each. (I needed that extra card to do it!) But note: you must notify them in writing when you want to unfreeze the accounts.
I found links to all three agencies when I was looking up the locations of my local police department. I discovered that my city and county websites had a page on identity theft. But just in case you want to bookmark them now: Equifax TransUnion Experian
CC by redspotted on flickr
Report the loss to the police. You'll need to do this at the precinct where the loss occurred. I suggest calling ahead to make sure you're going to the right place. You'll get a report number right away, but you may have to come back to get a copy of the actual report. You'll need this number if you want to get the $3.00 charge waived by the credit reporting agencies. I believe you will also need this if you want to report any losses on your taxes.
The police will want to know the address where the incident occurred and also, what was in your wallet. But fortunately for you, you've made copies of the contents and know where to put your hands on them. Right?
Replace your drivers license or ID. Another reason to be sticking to your diet--you never know when you'll have to take a picture that will haunt you for the next four or eight years. In Georgia, if you want to get a new number, you have to produce a police report. They also have very rigorous identification requirements. Is you Passport valid? Do you have a certified copy of your birth certificate and marriage license? Your original Social Security card? Your voter's registration card? No? Add rounding these up to your to do list. And by now you know where to keep these (if you don't have a safety deposit box at your bank)--yes, your Vital Records binder.
Replace your loyalty cards. I've been doing this as I go to each store. It might help to bring in the mini versions that go on your key ring, to look up your membership number. A recent client of mine had all of the "second" mini versions corralled on a small binder ring. I thought that was very clever.
I also discovered that some companies (like Staples) are going cardless, and just ask you for your phone number.
CC by Paul-W on flickr
Mourn the loss of any sentimental items. Hopefully you were able to carry the copy, and not the original. If not, remember the thing you lost is not the memory, it is just a symbol you have linked to the memory. You can create another symbolic link.
So hopefully if (or when) this happens to you, you will be able to handle the hassle without a lot of angst, because you learned from others' experiences and have prepared. Honestly, the worst part of the whole thing for me was having to explain how I lost my wallet.
As far as I can tell, I put it on top of the trunk of my car when I was filling up on gas, and never retrieved it. It wasn't in my purse at my next stop, and my gas cap wasn't screwed on, either. At least I didn't drive off with the pump handle still lodged in the tank. Like the lady in that recent Bounce Fabric Softener commercial diving away with the contents of her briefcase flying off the back of her car, "I'm a forgetter."
about Liz Logan
I'm a professional organizer in Atlanta, fighting the good fight on my own home front and sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly.
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