Take action the minute you notice your wallet or purse is missing. Thieves often want more than cash when snatching your belongings; they want to assume your identity. The immediate steps you take can make the difference between some missing money and months (or years) of headaches and frustration.
The Federal Trade Commission suggests you:
File a report with police immediately. This provides needed proof of the crime for your bank, credit card company and insurance company.
Cancel each credit card. Ask for new cards and new account numbers. Then, call the major credit reporting agencies to report missing cards and place a fraud alert on your accounts. Equifax: (800) 525-6285. Experian: (888) 397-3742. TransUnion: (800) 680-7289. Ask for credit reports, too, to search for any discrepancies.
Call your utility companies. Inform them someone may try to receive new service with your identification.
Contact the Social Security Administration. Call (800) 772-1213.
Report the loss to your bank. Cancel checking and savings accounts. Open new ones, and stop payments on outstanding checks. Ask for a new ATM card, account number and PIN or password.
Call the state department of motor vehicles. Report your missing driver’s license. Get a new number that’s not your social security number.
Change the locks. If keys to your car or home were taken, you don’t want to give an identity thief access to more personal property and information.
Contact your insurance companies. Prevent an identity thief from adding himself or herself to your policies.
Once you take these steps, pay close attention to your accounts. Be your own fraud investigator by taking notes of everyone you speak to, the date and time of the call and what you talked about.
It’s always important to be wary of thieves. Try not to stuff your purse or wallet with all your things—from your checkbook, pay stubs and credit cards to ATM cards, driver’s license and health insurance cards. It can take years to recover from identity theft because thieves can hold onto your information and trade it with others. Order your free credit report annually to watch for suspicious charges or accounts.