August 10, 2006

Lost Your Wallet?

I wanted to provide information this week to arm people with knowledge about what to do in the disheartening event of having one’s wallet or purse lost or stolen. If you’ve had it happen before, you understand the high level of stress involved. This week’s tip is designed to help minimize that stress somewhat by giving you some specific steps to take to minimize the potentially damaging effects.

- Cancel your credit cards immediately. That’s easy in theory, but in the event this were to occur, do you have filed handily away your creditors, their toll free numbers, and your card numbers so you know who to call?

- File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen. Ultimately, this will prove to creditors, insurance company, etc. that you were diligent. It is a first step toward an investigation if there is one.

- Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert (contact info below) on your name and SSN. The alert is a ‘flag’ to companies that check your credit. They will know that your information was stolen and they will need to contact you by phone to authorize new credit. This can be quickly added and also removed when desired.

- Report the information to your bank. Cancel checking and savings accounts and open new ones.

- Report your missing drivers’ license number to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Get a new number assigned (preferably not your SSN).

- Prepare now! Take steps now so that in the unfortunate event that this does happen to you, you will be prepared. Gather necessary documentation and records and keep them in a safe, secure place.

Equifax (800-525-6285)
Experian (888-397-3742)
TransUnion (800-680-7289)

FTC Identity Theft Hotline (877-ID-THEFT)

Other Identity Theft Government Resources:

( – Federal Trade Commission’s national identity theft resource. Information to help protect yourself, file a complaint, or read more on different identity theft topics.

( – Federal Trade Commission publications on identity theft.