How to Deal With a Stolen Wallet
You can save a lot of time and hassle if you anticipate the worst. American Express and Discover offer wallet-protection services that allow you to list all your credit and debit cards in their online registries; if you lose your wallet, they’ll call and cancel the cards and ask for replacements.
Amex’s Lost Wallet Protector costs $40 for a year or $100 for three; it includes assistance with passports and, in some states, driver’s licenses. Discover’s Wallet Protection costs $4 a month or $40 for a year.
The no-cost solution is to photocopy everything in your wallet so that you’ll know what to replace and you’ll have your account numbers and contact numbers at the ready. If your wallet goes missing and you’re going it alone, first contact your bank to cancel your debit card. If you don’t report your card missing within two business days of learning of a loss or theft, you could be responsible for up to $500 in charges. With credit cards, your liability for fraudulent charges is just $50, and the standard industry practice is to waive the amount.
Contact your department of motor vehicles to let it know that someone may attempt to use your license and to get a new one with a new number. You can place a fraud alert with any of the three credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. A fraud alert lasts for 90 days and requires lenders to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name.
This article first appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. For more help with your personal finances and investments, please subscribe to the magazine. It might be the best investment you ever make.