Keeping a Copy of What's in Your Wallet Can Help You Recover if It Is Even Lost or Stolen
Knowing exactly what's in your wallet can help you contact banks quickly and can help law enforcement the event it's stolen
Have you ever lost a credit card only to find that you don't know how to contact the bank? You might be traveling far from home or might not know which banks to contact. But there's something simple you can do to ensure that you can contact your financial institutions quickly in the event of a lost or stolen wallet, especially if you have a lot of cards.
Can you list the entire contents of your wallet?
Most people aren't able to list the entire contents of their wallets and most certainly can't remember bank phone numbers, let alone online websites, user IDs, and passwords. But it's very easy to list the contents of your wallet and contact your banks if you have a copy of the front and back of every card you have. Keeping a copy of this information in a secure place can make recovery from a lost or stolen wallet much easier.
Make a secure photocopy
Most copy machines store a digital copy of everything that has ever been processed. This can be a security concern if you are copying sensitive documents or financial cards. But you might have access to a secure photocopier. A great option is to use a scanner attached to your personal computer. You can save the information in a secure place or even print it once scanned. Many personal print scan and copy machines are also great ways to make copies.
Take some pictures
Who in this day and age doesn't have a phone capable of taking pictures? Exactly. So if you don't have access to a secure scanner or copier, taking a picture is a great alternative and may even be a better one. If your phone is secured with at least a passcode, you can create a photo album that is only the items in your wallet. Take a clear photo of the front and back of each card and keep it in that album. If you must contact your banks to report the cards as lost or stolen, you have that information in your hand whether you are at home or traveling 2,000 miles away.
What Should I document?
Definitely have a copy of your bank cards and their contact information. You will want to shut these cards down as quickly as possible if you believe they are in someone else's hands. You should also have a copy of your driver license, which you can provide to law enforcement if you are reporting a theft. It's easier to give law enforcement your ID number as opposed to having to provide all the information from it.
Also consider making a copy of insurance cards, store discount cards, etc. You may have to provide insurance information to a doctor before you can get a replacement card. In any case, having this information can make getting replacements much easier. Even better, someone who steals your wallet might be stupid enough to try using your insurance cards or may even use your store discount cards, which can give law enforcement a good look at the thief if the store has surveillance.
Don't expect law enforcement to do too much
Even if you provide all the information from your wallet and give suspect information, there's very often not much law enforcement can do if your wallet is stolen unless it or the cards are later recovered and then tracked back to you, which is why it's important to provide as much information as possible when filing a report. If you discover your cards or information was used at a particular place, provide this information to law enforcement. If it was used at a store with video, the video may be able to identify the subject. If it was used online to make a purchase, the shipping address or the IP address of the user can help identify the offender. In any case, law enforcement doesn't have the capabilities often displayed on television, even if you are able to find video or IP addresses.
Cancel your credit cards immediately if your wallet is stolen
The key is having the toll-free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. That's where your copies come in handy. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen, proving to credit providers that you were diligent in trying to prevent any subsequent fraud.
Never carry a Social Security card
Doing so only increases the chances that the card and number can fall into the wrong hands, which opens you to identity theft.
Contact the credit bureaus
If you think your Social Security Number may have been compromised, contact each of the three major credit reporting organizations immediately to create a free fraud alert. The alert means that any company checking your credit knows your information was stolen and must call you first at the number you provide before authorizing ANY credit.
- Equifax : 1-800-525-6285
- Experian : (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
- Trans Union : 1-800-680-7289
- Social Security Administration Fraud Line : 1-800-269-0271