Picture the scenario. You are sitting in a restaurant, or you are in a shopping mall. As you are asked to foot the bill, you slide down your hand in your pocket to only find you do not have your wallet. It rings alarm bells as you find your purse is missing.
First off, you have to face embarrassment
Secondly, it puts your life at stake as it carries most essential credentials such as a driving licence, identity proof, credit card, debit card, home keys, cash, passwords and other vital documents.
This situation is undoubtedly devastating
Losing a wallet is a serious concern when it carries your documents. You can become the victim of identity theft and fraud for years. After losing a billfold, you cannot sit idle. You will have to contact the police and block your cards as immediately as possible. Before you get into it, you will have to know if your wallet is thieved or misplaced.
Most of the time, people think that they have lost their billfolds only to find but had forgotten it in a drawer at their work desk or in the car. You must search for all places before freezing your cards and informing cops.
Search all clothing, pockets, bags, and car. Call recent locations like restaurants and bars. Sometimes you leave it on the counter at the time of making payments. Do not hesitate to call them if they have spotted your purse. Nobody would like to retain your wallet if you have left it on the counter. Do not expect a business to call you.
Search your house for wallet patiently. Never think about the problems you will likely face if you do not find it. Look around the visible areas where it is more likely to be spotted such as a near nightstand, desk drawers etc. Your first search can be panic-stricken, so make sure that you search your house, clothing, pockets, bags and car again. Do not assume that your wallet has been snitched without making an excellent effort to search for your wallet. It would be frustrating to cancel your cards only to find that in the pocket of your trousers.
Going your way back through your routine may help you jog your memory. Do not overlook areas where it seems to be unlikely to have a wallet. If you have misplaced it in public transport, contact a security staff department. They can help you get your purse back. If you have looked everywhere and have not found your billfold, get ready to take the following steps.
There is nothing to worry about if it has little money, and as long as it is about embarrassment you will face, you can call your friend to transfer money to your digital wallet, or you can get payday loans with 100% acceptance.
Call the issuer to block your card
Thieves can do a lot of harm with your finances, from maxing out your credit card to withdrawing all funds from your bank account, imposing liability on you. Call the bank or direct lender who has issued you a debit or credit card. The sooner you get it frozen, the better it is. Otherwise, you will end up paying credit card bills and loans opened by somebody else. Inform your institution of theft. Your bank will immediately block your card and issue a new one with a new account number. They will freeze your existing account quickly to prevent unauthorised transactions.
Take this step as quickly as possible. Your institution will ask you the last transaction made by you to make sure that no unauthorised purchase has been made before you inform them. Otherwise, you will be responsible for paying as minimum as £50 provided you report them about the theft within two business days. If you report after 60 days, the amount can go up to £500 for illegal purchases.
File a police report
This option seems trivial, and hence you may ignore to get into the hassle of filing a police report, but it can cause severe damage down the road. You will have to inform the cop:
- The place where you think you lost your wallet
- The time you believe when you lost it
- A description of your billfold
- Wallet items – it can be driving licence, ID cards, debit and credit cards, vouchers, membership cards and loyalty cards
It is a minor crime, so you can go to the nearest police station to report it or call the cop by dialling 101.
Inform credit reference agencies of the theft
Of course, you will never want a thief to open new credit cards and take out loans by stealing your identity. It can cause a serious damage to your creditworthiness. Protect yourself from being a victim of identity theft by informing credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax, TransUnion – of the theft scenario and request that they place a fraud alert on your credit report.
You only need to request an alert with one credit bureau because it will inform the others. The fraud alert will stay on your credit file for three months. However, you can get it extended for a further seven days. You will need the following documents for the extension.
- A police report
- An identity theft report
Report DVLA about your missing driving licence
Whether you carry a debit or credit card in your wallet or not, driving licence is something that must be in your purse all the time. To avoid identity theft, you need to inform DVLA as soon as possible of the theft. Though you can report them on the phone, it is better if you visit there in person. The staff will process the application to reissue the licence. You may be liable to pay fees. Make sure that you carry a copy of police report with you.
Change your home locks if keys are missing with the wallet
If you have lost your home keys, you should immediately change your locks. There is a risk of barge-in. Even if you have got your billfold back, you should change the locks. A pickpocket can have duplicate keys to damage your property. Robbery cases are high in the UK and are continually soaring. If you do not want to be mugged, make sure that you get it done as soon as possible.
Look over your credit file
Once you have called a credit reference agency to put the fraud alert on your credit report, they will have a watchful eye on your accounts. If they receive any request for opening a credit card and a loan, they will ask you if you made this request. Though the fraud alert will keep you from becoming the victim of identity theft, you should be on guard too. Keep tabs on your credit report from time to time. Download your credit report from all credit bureaus to see if it shows any fraudulent account. You can get a free report once a year.
Check for any strange activity – if it has any inquiry or any account that is not in your loop. After the expiry of 90 days, the alert will be removed, and you are likely to have lines of credit in your name. Make sure that all the accounts in your report are familiar to you. You can lower your guard when it comes to monitoring your credit file.
Call your health care provider
Not all people keep health insurance cards in their wallets. If it was in your purse when it was snitched, call your health care provider. Since someone may start using your card to attain medical benefits, you should immediately report the theft to the insurance provider. They will change your policy number and reissue a card with a new one.
Bear in mind that it may take a bit long time, probably a week or longer, making you unable to use your insurance to pay for prescriptions. You will have to manage such expenses on your own. It is recommended that you keep all the bills to get reimbursed.
Cancel membership of gym and clubs
If you have subscribed a membership program of a gym or a club, make sure that they know about the theft of your cards because somebody else could use them to have fun. Cancelling a membership can cost you some fees, but some do not charge any penny if you prove that your wallet has been purloined.
Buy a new wallet
Once you have informed the police and other local authorities of the theft, the next step is to buy a new wallet. Fill it with new cards and other important stuff. Of course, you may get your old purse back, but you cannot hang around waiting for it.
What can you do to prevent damage?
It can be annoying to get into the process of filing a police report, blocking cards, changing personal information and home locks. You can avoid this hassle by minimising the risk. Here is what you can do to protect yourself.
Do not keep things you do not need
Strip your wallet off stuff you do not need when you step out. If you are going to a shopping centre and you want to make payment in cash, you do not need to carry your debit and credit cards.
Make sure that you keep cash as much as you need. It is okay if it is slightly over your budget, but money should not be three or four times more than you need. Do not keep passwords and other documents that you do not need. Driving licence is a must, but do not carry other identity documents like passports. Before you stuff things into your purse, ask yourself what you need and what you do not need.
Scan all documents you keep in your wallet
It might be hard to remember all the things you keep in your purse, especially when it carries everything from passwords to documents. A good rule of thumb says that you should scan it into your desktop. Save it on your email id, so that you do not need to make a checklist at the time of theft. You can immediately inform the cop what it carried without missing on an item. Store your password details in a PDF format in multiple locations.
If you do not want to take the headache of scanning documents, you should use a lost wallet app. Many of them are available without any cost. These apps replicate the content of your wallet and secure them with a password. Some apps provide a facility of emergency numbers so that you can call straight away.
Be on guard
When you are out of home, try to keep your wallet in front pockets of trousers. Back pockets are vulnerable. Be aware of your surroundings. Take your purse with you when you need it. If you think that you are being stalked, cross the road or go into a shop and wait there until you know you are safe. Beware of pickpockets when you are travelling in public transport.
The final word
Even though you have reported the cop about the crime, you cannot wait for getting your stuff back. Thieves are always at large even after several months. Much as you are cautious enough, you are likely to have lost your wallet. You cannot tear up the theft by roots.
If you get caught in this situation, you should follow the tips as mentioned above. The sooner you act, the better it is. You might feel like it puts you out, but this is the only thing you are supposed to do. Try to keep as minimum things as possible in your wallet to reduce the damage. Shoving what you do not need into your wallet is not a smart act.
Though you cannot expect thieves to have mended their ways, at least, you know what you need to do if it happens.