What to Do When Your Wallet is Lost or Stolen

47% of Americans experienced some type of financial identity theft in 2020 alone, according to a report by the Aite Group. A wallet typically contains most, if not all, of the information criminals need to exploit your identity – by opening bank accounts, taking out loans, and making fraudulent charges in your name.

If your wallet happens to be stolen or lost, it’s critical that you take steps to protect your identity.

1. Double-check everywhere.

Before taking the drastic measure of closing accounts and reordering documents you should make sure that your wallet really is lost or stolen. Try retracing your steps thoroughly and checking places you recently visited – such as where you made your last purchase. You may end up saving yourself time, money, and a headache.

2. Call your debit & credit card issuer(s).

If you’ve established that your wallet is definitely lost or stolen, the first thing you should do is call each of your banks / financial institutions to inform them. They will deactivate your card and mail you a replacement, which normally arrives within a week.

The sooner you can deactivate your card, the better. Doing so can help decrease the amount of unauthorized charges that you could be held legally responsible for. (These policies vary, so check with your bank.)

3. Address your credit.

The next step involves notifying one of the three national credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. The credit bureau will “freeze” your credit, which blocks criminals from trying to open any new lines of credit or accounts in your name. Do this quickly. If a thief does serious damage before you’re able to freeze your credit, it can potentially take years to recover from.

4. If you know it was stolen, report it to the police.

While it probably won’t help get your wallet back, a police report provides you with official documentation of the theft. This can be helpful if you end up filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, or applying for a new driver’s license or social security card.

5. Replace other missing cards & documents.

Now that the wheels are in motion with the critical items mentioned above – you can shift your focus to replacing the other items that were in your wallet. Start by doing an inventory of the contents (driver’s license, insurance cards, loyalty cards, etc.), and then contact each provider for details on their replacement process.

Restoring your identity and credit after losing a wallet can end up being a lengthy and costly process. For peace of mind consider securing an identity theft protection plan. These plans provide suspicious financial activity monitoring, dark web tracking, data breach notifications, and other services that help safeguard your identity and credit.

As a benefit of your membership, you can receive special pricing on an identity theft protection plan. Visit the ID theft protection page today to enroll.

5 Tips To Help You Protect Your Identity

Despite best efforts on behalf of businesses and consumers alike, cases of identity theft and fraud have continued to rise. In 2017 alone, an estimated 16.7 million individuals had their identities compromised, up 1.3 million from 2016 and 3.6 million from 2015, according to the 2018 Identity Fraud Study conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research.

While banks and retailers have taken steps to protect credit card information from being stolen (such as with EMV chips), many retailers still require customers to swipe – which eliminates the benefits of the EMV chip altogether.

Know Your Options

You may be feeling helpless when it comes to identity theft, but there are steps you can take to keep your information protected.

Tip #1: Freeze your credit

Thanks to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, there is no longer a fee associated with freezing your credit. This is one of the easiest ways you can protect your information without doing anything more than contacting the three major reporting bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. According to Experian, “when you freeze your credit report, you are stopping any of your personal data from being reported to lenders and creditors. Thus, in the event that a fraudster would try to use your Social Security number to apply for a credit card, that application would be rejected, as the bank would be unable to verify your credit score.”

If freezing isn’t for you, all three major credit bureaus offer mobile apps that allow you to lock and unlock your credit using your smartphone.

Tip #2: Update your passwords

The street you grew up on, your pet’s name, or the high school you graduated from are not hard to find out. Instead, consider a random series of letters, numbers, and special characters. Experts such as Perfect Passwords author Mark Burnett suggest coming up with a new secure password every six to twelve months.

Tip #3: Monitor your accounts

If you suspect your identity has been stolen, the faster you act the better. Many banks now monitor your accounts for you and will either text or call you if they suspect any fraudulent activity, but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your accounts yourself. It’s important to read through every account charge and investigate anything you don’t recognize immediately.

Tip #4: Don’t leave a trail

How many credit card offers do you receive in the mail, and then simply throw away? According to NerdWallet, “Stolen mail is one of the easiest paths to a stolen identity.” If you haven’t already invested in a personal shredder, there are a number of models designed to help keep your identity safe and protected for less than $30.


No one means to misplace their wallet, have their car broken into, or their purse stolen, but accidents happen. This is why it is never a good idea to carry your social security card with you at all times. According to Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq., an Amherst, Massachusetts-based college professor who specializes in white-collar crime, “A Social Security number is the most important piece of information that a criminal can use to make you a victim of identity theft so you shouldn’t carry it with you in your wallet, anyway.”

A better place to store your social security card may be at home, in a safe place, preferably under lock and key.

Protect Your Information

Are you concerned about your risk of identity theft? Visit our Identity Theft Protection page to see what is available to you as a member.