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Protect yourself from identity theft and minimize damage with this handy guide on what to do when your wallet or purse is stolen!
My Wallet was Stolen, Now What?
Have you ever had your wallet stolen? I did the summer while I was out of town and it was a series of headaches.
If you’re subscribed to the community newsletter you may remember that in July I mentioned that my purse got stolen in Denver.
We were over in Colorado to celebrate my cousin getting married. Beautiful weekend and celebration, but yeah that was a sour note for sure.
We spent a good chunk of time on the phone and online to get things squared away.
As we were working to avoid getting hit with any unauthorized charges and sort out things with TSA since our flight back was only a few days away, I wished I had a handy and quick guide on what I needed to do.
I hope you never have your wallet or purse stolen, but if you do I want to make things easier.
That’s why I have Joe Mecca from Coastal Credit Union on.
He’s joining me today to discuss on what you need to know to protect yourself against identity theft and what steps you need to take to recover or replace what was stolen.
I want to help to minimize the damage and stress so you can get back to your routine and focus on the important things.
Resources to Protect Your Identity and Finances
If you've had your wallet or purse stolen or lost, here are some resources we mentioned in the episode as well as some other handy articles to check out:
- Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft
- FBI Futurist Shares His Top 5 Tips For Protecting Your Identity Online
- How to Fight Back Against Identity Theft
- The Equifax Data Breach: What to Do if You’re Affected
- Credit vs. Debit cards: Which Has Better Fraud Protection?
- Coastal Federal Credit Union
- Credit Union Locator
- Annual Credit Report: Free way to review each of your credit reports
For freezing your accounts or putting an alert you need to contact the credit bureaus.
- Equifax: 1-888-766-0008
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-72892
Wallet Stolen? Here's What Your Need to Do
Elle Martinez: When my wallet was stolen, I had to make a decision – Who do I call first?
Do I go with my credit card and banks first to make sure I don't have those unauthorized charges? Do I call the police to file a report or do I call my phone provider?
I have a lot of stuff on my phone and I don't want the thief to have access to [any of] it.
Now, if you're looking at the big picture that you're trying to prevent identity theft, it does make sense to look at calling the police. If it's stolen, you're
Joe Mecca: going to want to call the police file a report. That's going to go a long way toward any claims that you have to make later on with your financial institutions or your phone carrier, or if there's any other sort of loss involved.
You know, a police report is going to go a long way to supporting. Expediting that claim and getting yourself made whole, again, working backwards a little bit saying people need to know is know what you have with, you know, what cards are in your wallet. No, what's in your purse. So that way, you know, if something goes, does get lost or stolen, you have a quick sense of what you need to deal with.
Elle Martinez: Since we were out of town and I didn't have my phone on me, it took a little bit to find where the nearest police station was. We left our little girls with my mom. That way they can still enjoy the trip. And to be honest, we can take care of this a lot faster. When we got to the police station, they told us that this crime was something that could be reported online.
So when we got back to our Airbnb and had that internet connection, we went ahead and filled it out. And if you haven't filed a police report before, there's a lot of details that you have to cover details about when, where, and what happened. Giving an exact list of what was stolen. And depending on the situation, they're going to ask you about the criminal involved.
If you saw the person who stole your wallet or your purse, and when you submit it, make sure you get a number on this report. And in our case, we went ahead and printed it out. It was not only for insurance purposes, but because I was going to be traveling, I wanted to have some kind of proof to give to the TSA agent.
That way I can can on the flight on time. Once you file your police report, it's time to protect your finances.
Joe Mecca: I'm going to speak to it more from the financial institution, but from there, you're going to want to contact your financial institution and report your card stolen. So yeah, if that's your, your debit card and you want to.
Call, whoever your checking account provider is, or it may just be a credit card. You're going to want to call most places are going to have that number readily available. It's going to be part of their main phone report, a lost or stolen card. Just push this button. That's right. Main menu to make it easier because people do lose their cards.
It's not always a stolen card, but people lose their cards all the time. And it's nice to be able to have that option available to them. Yeah, a lot of places put the card or the phone number on the back of the card. But when the card is lost, that doesn't do you much good. So. You know, give them, give a call to your institution, report loss reported stolen.
What we're going to do right away is we're gonna block that card so nobody can use it and then hurry up and issue a new one. And the big thing too is then not only have we blocked that we've also been reported up through visa so they can issue an alert and you know, that that card shouldn't be, shouldn't be used anywhere.
Elle Martinez: You know how you sometimes hear about something that you're not quite sure if it's 100% true. Since I was talking with Jill, I wanted to ask him, was there a difference in liability with a credit card versus a debit card? So
Joe Mecca: our agreement with visa is that if there is loss from fraudulent charges, the member is never held liable for that.
And that's true in a lot of people. There's a misconception that that's only true on credit cards. Those are true. Credit and debit. The process for getting your money back is a little bit different for each cause on your credit card. It's you can identify that as a fraudulent charge and just not have to pay it with your debit card.
We have to give you the money back, but, but in either case. We're assuming the liability for that.
Elle Martinez: Once you contacted and notified your financial institutions, you want to check on your cell phone provider, especially if you're like me, you have a smartphone and a lot of accounts are tied to it. The other
Joe Mecca: thing you need to do after the fact, after you reported your car stolen do the same thing with your phone.
You call your carrier. I've actually lost my phone before I was able to quickly call at and T say, Hey, I lost my phone. They can block the phone. And so nobody can use it in the meantime. And when then when I did find it, I found it the next day I had actually accidentally left it somewhere. They were able to quickly turn it back
Elle Martinez: off.
And once you take care of your immediate concern, you can now focus on recovery and replacing what else was taken. I far the hardest and understandably so is your identity card. Whether it's a driver's license or a state issued ID or a passport, you have to take care of that. And it will take a few weeks.
In my case, I did have the option of not going down to a DMV, but it was still three weeks before I got my replacement driver's license. And don't forget your insurance cards as well. You want to make sure that you're covered and protected it, have that handy. Should you need it? Even though you contacted your financial institutions and you're not going to be liable.
You have to stay on top of your finances, especially when you're talking about your bank accounts, because it does take time to sort things out. So you want to know if there's any unauthorized purchases or withdrawals from your account. Now for us, this is fairly easy because we use money apps to track our day-to-day budget and transaction levels.
So if you use apps like personal capital mint, tiller, you need a budget, you get the idea. This can help you out because it does look at the transactions. If you see anything that's out of sort, you can quickly call your institution and get that squared away. You also don't want any new accounts to be opened up in your name.
That means checking your credit report.
Joe Mecca: You're always going to want to monitor your credit reports. Anyway, each of the credit bureaus is obligated to give you one free report every year. So you can go to annual credit report.com and get a free copy of your credit report that way I like to stagger them.
So rather than do it all at once, once a year, Do each one. So I might do Equifax in the spring and TransUnion in the summer and the fall. And then, so you're pulling a new report for yourself every four months. It was on there. You could see what your open lines of credit are. What your balances are, your history on each of those.
And that reflects a lot of things, but the one thing. To do in that case is, you know, you're able to see what's out there. So if somebody was to try to fraudulently opened something in your name or, and succeeded, that should show up on your credit report
Elle Martinez: fairly quickly. And another layer of protection you can use with your credit reports is by having them frozen.
Joe Mecca: So when you do a credit freeze, you can call up each of the major credit reporting bureaus and, and request a credit freeze. And what that does is it prevents new credit from being opened in your name? So, so somebody had, for whatever reason, enough information about you to go ahead and try to apply for a credit card or apply for a loan, or do a variety of other things using your name and your identity, a frozen credit report will prevent that from happening.
And what happens is you, so you'll call up and some of them do an online process. Some of them you can call and request it, but they'll freeze your credit. And then they'll provide you with a pen or a code that you can then use when it's time for you to go back and saw your credits. If you know that you don't need to apply for a loan in the next couple of months or whatever.
And you know that there's no need for additional credit right now. Go ahead and freeze your credit. We actually advise that as something to do as just as a best practice, not necessarily in response to fraud or identity theft, that's a good preventative measure, especially on the tales of the Equifax breach that we had last year and everything that came out of that.
It's a good idea just to, if you don't need credit, go ahead and freeze it. And then when you do need credit, reach out to the credit bureaus, provide them with that code. They can open your credit back up. Somebody can do a critical issue, you new alone, and then you can rephrase again.
Key Takeaways on Identity Theft
Before we close up I want to focus on some key takeaways I got from our experience and talking with Joe:
- A little preparation goes a long way. Have you set up two-factor authentification for your most important accounts? Do you use strong passwords or utilize a password manager like LastPass? These can help protect your accounts from being hacked.
- Pare down your wallet. You don't need to have EVERYTHING in your wallet, just the essentials.
- Act quickly. As soon as you realize your wallet is stolen, start the process to close your old cards and replace your valuables.
There’s so much more we can cover, but if you want to talk about your experience and share some key tips that helped you, please join us over at Thriving Families on Facebook.
It’s a free, private, and positive community where we help one another out. Just head over there and let us know what your big goals you’re working on.
We’d love to support with them!
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