FIRST: Call the police
If you suspect your wallet was stolen, call the cops. Even though the police might not be able to track down your wallet, putting in a report will cover you in other ways. If a thief does try committing identity fraud, you’ll have to prove that you aren’t responsible for the costs. “Someone is going to lose here, and it’s either the credit card company, bank, or you,” says Robert Siciliano, CSP, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com. “If you say you’re a victim, you need to prove it.” That police report could be the proof you need to show you’re telling the truth about false charges. Don’t miss these tips for keeping your purse safe in public.
Close your debit and credit cards
Any lost credit or debit accounts should be closed as soon as possible. Start with debit, which can be even more devastating than having a credit card stolen. “The money is coming right out of your bank account, whereas credit is a credit card company’s money,” Siciliano says. But act fast—you’ll be liable for up to only $50 of fraudulent charges if you report it within two business days, but any longer and you could lose $500 or more. Credit cards, on the other hand, have a 60-day gap for you to report. Siciliano recommends swapping out a debit card for an ATM card, which lets you take out or deposit cash and checks but can’t be swiped to pay at a store or restaurant.
Put up a fraud alert
One option is to put up a fraud alert on your file by calling just one of the three credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union). If someone tries to open credit using your name and information, the business will take more steps to confirm their identty. “The problem here is that if they have a hold of your license, they could take your information and put their picture on a faked license,” says Adam Levin, chairman and founder of identity protection service IDT911 and author of Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves. These are 26 secrets identity thieves won’t tell you.