Lost or Stolen: A wallet or purse is a person’s lifeline
Think for a moment. A purse without company of its owner on a bus headed uptown. A wallet on the convenience store counter whose owner is 56 miles up the freeway. Or it’s still in a taxi, somewhere.
First – To Cancel or Not To Cancel
First things first. Having online access to accounts means the accounts can be monitored without the hassle of canceling all the cards right away. In this day and age, everyone should be able to have access to their online accounts. Even if personal information in a purse or wallet is never out of sight, everyone should still monitor their bank account nearly daily.
It is also possible to have identity theft monitoring as a service, which will watch credit for fraud like a hawk. With this sort of service, only one call is needed to take care of possible identity theft and fraud. If these services aren’t available, cancel the cards. Most people rely on the cards themselves for the customer service telephone numbers needed, so a good precaution is to keep a separate listing of all cards, their account numbers, and the telephone numbers needed if a wallet is lost or stolen. Obviously, keep this is a safe, secure place, not the wallet!
Second – The Cash Stash
Without cards or ID, simple errands like buying groceries, or filling the tank with gas can be almost impossible. It is always a good idea to keep a small stash of cash at home for such an emergency. Smaller bills will be easier to use- try buying gas with a $100 bill.
Third – Alternative IDs, Your New Best Friend
Since the wallet or ID is still on the #24 bus, or possibly being used by someone for nefarious purposes, having an alternative means of proving identity is a must. Keep expired driver’s licenses, make a copy of the valid driver’s license and proof of insurance (auto and health) and keep them in a safe place as well.
Fourth – That SSN Card? You Don’t Need it With You
Don’t carry Social Security Cards. Rarely does anyone need this card and it is manna to an identity thief. Leave it home with the safe stuff.
Fifth – Money Talks
It isn’t a bad idea to put a note in the wallet with relevant information and offering a reward for its safe return. In short, a few small efforts can make life much easier and less stressful should a wallet or purse be lost or stolen.