There are two things that really suck about losing your wallet (or having it stolen). The first is that you don’t have your license, credit card, and other documents that you need for everyday life. Bummer. The second is that you’re at risk of identity theft—someone using your cards and information to spend your money and essentially ruin your financial life. Major bummer. So if this happens to you, get on it immediately! Here’s how:
Repeat after us: cancel, cancel, cancel. As soon as you realize you’ve lost your wallet or credit card, find the customer service number for your bank or credit card company and cancel your current card. Don’t wait to review your bank statements for possible fraudulent charges; a clever thief will find ways of concealing their purchases which can make them difficult for you to detect. With quick reporting, you’ll likely be reimbursed for any charges made after your card went missing. A new card will also feature a new number, eliminating the usefulness of an old card for thieves. Plus, it’s almost always free to have a new card sent, so all you have to lose is a few days without it; way better than losing your hard-earned money!
Your driver’s license is another form of information that can be dangerous in the hands of identity thieves. If your license is lost or stolen, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state immediately to report it. Your DMV can help you to get a new license, but you’re probably going to have to pay a nominal fee and it can take a few weeks to process. In most cases, they’ll issue a temporary license for you to use in the meantime. Since even an invalid driver’s license can be useful for criminals, it’s best to closely monitor your accounts and credit report after losing your license.
Social Security Card
First of all: you shouldn’t be keeping your social security card in your wallet. Period. This vital document belongs in a safe or lockbox. That being said, if you do lose it, the good news is that getting a new one isn’t difficult or expensive. In fact, apparently this happens all the time because the Social Security Administration allows you to receive three free replacements in a year or 10 in a lifetime (although better to not push the envelope, duh). Look up the Social Security Office in your area here, fill out the application (you can do that part ahead of time and bring it with you) and show a photo ID, and you’re done. At many offices you can even schedule an appointment ahead of time so you don’t have to take a number and wait like at the Department of Motor Vehicles. The real problem with losing your Social Security card is you can’t change your number, which is among the most useful tools for identity thieves. If your card is lost or stolen, the best thing you can do is closely monitor your accounts and don’t let it happen again.