Keeping a Copy of Everything in Your Wallet Can Help You Recover if It Gets Lost or Stolen
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Keeping a Copy of Everything in Your Wallet Can Help You Recover if It Gets Lost or Stolen

Knowing exactly what's in your wallet can help you contact banks quickly and can help you provide information to law enforcement in the event it's stolen

April 9, 2021

Have you ever lost a credit card only to realize that you didn't know how to reach the bank to get a new one? If you lose your wallet, you might not know who to contact, which can be a problem if you're traveling. 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 by allowing you to know everything that you no longer have.

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 there are ways to make secure copies. A great option is to use a scanner attached to your personal computer. You can save the information in a secure file on your computer or even print it once scanned and place it in a safe. Many personal print scan and copy machines make good printed 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 lists 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. But keep in mind that not all technology is completely secure and foolproof. But you probably don't have to worry. Just make sure that your photos aren't syncing somewhere else, such as the cloud.

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 if you visit 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 cameras.

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 card 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. And there are often more pressing crimes that need to take priority.

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.

Carrying a Social Security card

Carrying a Social Security card or other document with your Social Security number only increases the chances that the card or number can fall into the wrong hands, which opens you to identity theft. So don't do it.

If you think your Social Security number may have been compromised, contact 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. You should also contact the Social Security Administration's Fraud Line.