You’ve lost your wallet—or it’s been stolen—and your first instinct is to panic. But resist this urge. Instead, take these 11 steps after your wallet has gone missing. If you do, it will help minimize the damage if someone has stolen your wallet, possibly with your driver’s license, credit cards and other important pieces of personal identification inside it.
Here’s what to do when you lose your wallet
1. Call the issuer of your debit card
Tell the bank or financial institution that you think your debit card has been stolen. Your bank will immediately cancel your debit card and issue you a replacement with a new account number. Your bank will also go over recently listed purchases with your card to determine the last legal purchase you made before losing your debit card.
2. Call the bank that issued your checkbook
You’ll have to take most of the same steps you did when canceling your lost or stolen debit card. Call your bank immediately and ask for a freeze on your checking account. This way, thieves won’t be able to make any more purchases using your checkbook.
3. Call your credit card companies
Call the companies that issued your credit cards, all of them, to cancel those cards. According to the Fair Credit Billing Act, you are not responsible for any fraudulent purchases on your credit card as long as you report your card stolen before a thief starts using it.
4. Set up fraud alerts with the national credit bureaus
One of the best ways to protect yourself from this scenario is to call one of the three national credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax or TransUnion—to request that they place a fraud alert on your credit report.
5. Consider identity theft protection
Even after you’ve canceled your checking account, credit cards and debit cards, you might still be vulnerable. Thieves can use other cards in your wallet, including your Social Security card, if you carry that, to steal your identity. Tip: Leave your Social Security card at home and secured in a safe place.
6. File a police report
Filing a police report is actually a key step in protecting your identity.
7. Replace your Social Security card
You’ll need to order a credit freeze with the three national credit bureaus. This may help prevent a thief from opening new credit under your name unless you personally remove the freeze.
8. Check your credit reports for unusual activities
You’ll need to remain vigilant after losing your wallet to make sure that no one is using your identity to open new lines of credit or apply for loans. The best way to do this is to check your credit reports regularly.
9. Get a new driver’s license
If your driver’s license was in your wallet, you’ll need to replace it. If you don’t, you could face a hefty fine if you’re driving and you’re stopped by a police officer.
10. Change the locks?
A thief armed with your address, from your driver’s license, and a key to your house can easily break into your home. Avoid this risk by quickly changing the locks to your home so that key that was in your wallet won’t open your door.
11. Make a list of what else was in your wallet
Make a list of the cards you carried in your wallet and start replacing those that you absolutely need. You’ll need to replace insurance cards, for instance, so that you can show it to your doctor during appointments.