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It happens, quite a bit if you’re like me. Your do the nervous pocket pat down or dump out the entire contents of your bag, rooting around on the floor. You search the house, the car, the gym bag, the laundry basket. Where’s your wallet? Your stomach drops and panic sets in. Did you leave it somewhere? Did someone snatch it?? You just had it a little bit ago!?!

Finally…

But what if the “Aha” moment never comes?

Unfortunately, wallets are lost or stolen relatively frequently. If it happens to you, rest assured that getting everything back on the up and up isn’t a huge deal or hassle. The crucial thing to remember is that you need to protect your money and your personal information now that it’s out in the world somewhere.

Here are the most important steps to take to get your life back on track:

Step 1: Make sure your wallet has actually disappeared. Check everywhere, then double and triple check again. Definitely gone? Move on to the next steps, as quickly as you’re able.

Step 2: Call your credit and debit card providers and ask them to put a freeze on your cards. It’s the preferred alternative to canceling your cards altogether if you’re thinking your wallet may turn up. If/when you choose to go ahead and cancel your cards, make sure to ask your providers to express mail you the new ones (which should be free of charge). You can usually snag a temporary debit card at your local bank until a permanent one is issued.

Contact info for top credit and debit card providers:

American Express:           1-800-992-3404

Visa:                                  1-800-847-2911

MasterCard:                      1-800-627-8372

Discover:                           1-800-347-2683

Bank of America:              1-800-432-1000

Chase:                               1-800-935-9935

Citibank:                            1-800-950-5114

Wells Fargo:                      1-800-869-3557

TD Bank:                           1-888-751-9000

US Bank:                           1-800-285-8585

PNC Bank:                        1-888-762-2265

Step 3: If your actual bank account numbers were on anything in your wallet (i.e. personal checks), notify your bank immediately and start the process of closing those accounts and opening new ones. Remember to take a look at your account statements and see what automated bill payments, withdrawals, or deposits go through each month. You’ll need to notify those companies about your new accounts too.

Step 4: Freeze your credit. It’s inexpensive and could save you quite a headache in the long run.

Agencies to call:

          Equifax:                               1-800-525-6285

          Experian:                             1-888-397-3742

         TransUnion:                        1-800-680-7289

Step 5: If your wallet has definitely been stolen, report it to the authorities. You may have to meet with an officer to make a formal statement. Come up with a list of everything you can think of that’s missing. They may find a few items and return them to you!

Step 6: We all know the DMV can be a pain, but milling around without an ID is not a good idea. Stop by your local DMV with any government issued identification (passport, birth certificate, etc.) to get a temporary license issued. It’s not a complicated process. To save some time, go during off-peak hours. You’ll be mailed a new permanent license for around $20.

Step 7: If your social security card was in there, inform the authorities immediately, as this loss could result in identity theft. Your social security number cannot be reissued or changed. All you can do is get a new card.

Here’s your to-do list to keep identity thievery at bay:

1. Notify the IRS Identity Protection Unit (1-800-908-4490);

2. File the loss with the Federal Trade Commission (1-877-ID-THEFT);

3. Report the loss to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Losing your wallet can initially cause you major stress. It’s jarring to think that someone you don’t know could have all that stuff. Check off these to-do’s, breathe a little easier and get back to doing your thing. If you ever have any questions, just give us a call.

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