1. Remain Calm and proceed through with a quick and efficient plan of action
2. Call Your Debit Card Issuers – If you had an ATM/debit card or checkbook in your wallet/purse, your very first phone call should be to that bank or card issuer. That’s because victims of debit card fraud need only pay up to a maximum of $50 as long as they report a missing or lost card within the first two business days of realizing the card’s gone. And most likely your bank won’t hold you liable for a single penny if you notify them promptly. They’ll replace all your missing funds while investigating the fraud.
3. Call Your Credit Card Issuers – Next, call your credit card issuer and let them know that your wallet/purse is missing. Just like with your missing debit card, the issuer will replace the missing credit card with a new one with new digits. Delaying this step could cost you – but not as much as with a debit card, which is why it’s not the very first step. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you face no liability if someone steals your credit card and starts going on a shopping spree as long as you report the lost or stolen card prior to the theft. If someone starts charging up your account prior to you alerting your card issuer, your limited liability goes from zero to up to $50.
4. File a Local Police Report – File a police report and list all of the items that were stolen. Don’t leave the station until you receive a copy or two of the report. This will be useful if the theft results in any sort of fraud. In the case that you are a victim of identity theft, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and fill out an identity theft affidavit form and attach it with your copy of the police report
5. Set up Fraud Alerts – While your old debit and credit cards will no longer work after your bank issues you new ones, a thief could still find a way to steal your identity and begin opening lines of credit with your name, date of birth and address (found on your license). In an effort to protect your identity and credit, set up a fraud alert with one of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Once you place an alert with one, the law requires that agency to report your loss to the other two and a fraud alert will be placed on all three of your credit reports for an initial 90 days for free. By placing an alert, lenders and creditors will know to verify a person’s identity before extending him or her any new credit.
6. Pull Your Credit Reports – Just as creditors are now keeping a watchful eye on your accounts for the next three months, you should, too. Head to www.annualcreditreport.com and download your credit reports from each of the three credit reporting agencies. It’s free to do so once a year. Check for any strange activity like unfamiliar inquiries or accounts. It is wise to check these sites two or three times during the year – after the free 90-day fraud alert expires – since some thieves will sit on your information for a while, hoping that you’ll let your guard down, and then start opening new lines of credit in your name
7. Call Your Health Insurance Company – Your medical identity could be at risk if your health insurance card gets in the wrong hands. Someone could start using your card to receive medical benefits. If that card has gone missing along with the other items in your wallet/purse, call your health care provider and let them know.
8. Social Security Card Gone, Too? Your social security number is the jackpot for an identity thief. With it, he or she can easily open credit accounts in your name. Hopefully this wasn’t in your wallet/purse, but if it was, you may want to look into applying for a credit freeze. This prevents anyone from applying for credit under your name and social security number. It’s the ultimate precaution.