Jackie here. A lost or stolen wallet is bad news for your identity. Inside of your wallet lies most of the information thieves need to steal your identity and commit ID theft. Unfortunately, even with preventative efforts, lost and stolen wallets do happen.
If you lose yours, these tips from KrebsonSecurity will help you minimize the damage and take preventative steps to protect your identity.
- Cancel Your Cards– If you had credit cards, debit cards, or checks in your wallet, you’ll need to let your bank or financial institution know as soon as possible. Many accounts have fraud protections, but only if you report the loss within a specified time frame.
- Place a Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze– When you’re at an increased risk for ID theft (like after the loss of a wallet) a fraud alert or credit freeze can provide added protection. A fraud alert warns potential creditors that your identity may be compromised so they can take additional steps to verify your identity. A credit freeze locks down your credit, freezing both you and identity thieves out of opening new accounts (a freeze can be lifted as needed if you need to have your credit checked). Be aware that a credit freeze does require a few more steps a small fee to set up.
- Check Your Credit– Whether your wallet is stolen or not, get in the habit of checking your credit. Regular credit checks can help you spot ID theft early on.
In addition to the steps above (most of which are well known), make sure you take another important step to protect your identity. This step might not be as common, but it is certainly important.
- Report Your Wallet Stolen to the Police- Always report a lost or stolen wallet to the police. Get a police report and keep it in your records so you have proof of loss should you ever need it.
One final tip before we go! Although we hope you never lose your wallet, you can take an important step today to minimize the damage should you ever encounter this problem.
- Take Your Social Security Card Out of Your Wallet- If you keep your Social Security card in your wallet, take it out. Store it at home in a secure place, and don’t carry it around with you unless you need it for a particular occasion.
These steps should help you protect yourself from ID theft resulting from a lost or stolen wallet, or minimize the damage in case it does happen to you.