Millions of Americans will travel Labor Day weekend – some predict it to be one of the biggest on record – and many will find themselves frantic as they lose their wallets or purses. Discovering that a wallet or purse has gone missing can spark panic among even the calmest people. After all, a wallet likely holds a treasure trove of cash, debit cards, credit cards, personal identification, health insurance cards and more than a few loyalty cards. Here’s what to do if you lost your wallet during Labor Day weekend travel.
What to do if you lost your wallet while traveling
If you’ve lost your wallet, take the following steps, keeping a list of dates and names of individuals with whom you have spoken:
Make a list and take only what you need
Take only what you need when traveling and make a list of what’s in your wallet and keep it separately, including phone numbers of banks and credit card companies. This is so you know what companies or agencies you need to contact.
I recommend that you store your list and/or pictures of your wallet contents online in secure location like Google Docs, Dropbox, or Evernote.
And do not keep your Social Security card in your wallet. This is one of the most important numbers of your identity. Guard it like the secret formulas for Coke or KFC chicken! Memorize the number and keep the actual card in your home safe or bank safety deposit box.
Determine where and when
Identify approximately where and when you lost your wallet. I use the app Esplorio to track where I travel during vacation so I can remember places I ate, shops I purchased from, etc. This app will also help you retrace your steps to possibly find your wallet or at least be able to notify police of potential locations it was lost.
File a police report
As soon as you know your wallet is officially lost and not just hiding in a couch cushion, call the police to establish a record of your loss, which could come in handy if you become a victim of fraudulent purchases.
Contact your bank
Call your bank as soon as possible to cancel your debit and/or credit card and get a new one. For example, many branches, such as PNC’s, can print a new debit card for you on the spot so you don’t have to go without access to money. If your checkbook was in your wallet, make sure to let your bank know.
“When we see customers who have lost their wallets or purses, it’s easy to understand their concern. They don’t know who has access to their personal information and potentially their money,” says Tracey Markovich, a branch manager at PNC Bank.
Call other credit card issuers
Ask to cancel your cards and have new ones sent right away. You may need to verify a few recent transactions so the issuer can assess whether your card was used after you lost it.
Depending on the level of card and your bank’s policies, they may be able to overnight a card to your hotel without charging you a fee. Before you agree to have the card mailed overnight, be sure to ask if there is a charge to expedite the new card.
I use the app Penny to notify me of transactions posting to my bank and credit card accounts. Watch closely for potentially fraudulent transactions.
Notify your insurance companies
Most people carry their auto insurance and medical insurance cards but often forget to notify the companies of a lost card. Insurance fraud is a very profitable business for criminals and most of us would never know if we were victims.
Notifying the insurance companies right away can help protect you if someone tries to file a claim or use your benefits. You may not worry about it now, but this criminal activity could put you in jeopardy later in life due to lifetime benefit maximums on many insurance policies that could deny you (or your family) coverage when you need it most.
Closely watch rewards accounts
If you rack up rewards points, contact your loyalty accounts to see what they recommend. You want to protect your hard-earned rewards from disappearing since the thieves now have personal information that may allow them to make changes to your account and redeem or transfer your rewards.
And pay attention to your reward accounts’ activity for anything suspicious like transfers or redemptions and contact the company right away if anything seems out of order.
Please note that there’s no need to carry loyalty cards in your wallet. Use an app like AwardWallet to keep track of your accounts instead.
Set up fraud alerts
Contact the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) to have a fraud alert established on your file. This means that if anyone applies for credit in your name in the next 90 days, the creditors will contact you to verify your identity before granting any new credit applications.
Check your keys
If you had an extra house key in your wallet, be sure to change your locks. Even if your wallet turns up somewhere, someone could have made a copy of your key – and if your driver’s license or other personal identification was in your wallet, they know where you live.
The Bald Thoughts
Losing your wallet while traveling is not only scary, but it is incredibly inconvenient. Now that we’ve shared some tips on what to do if you lost your wallet during Labor Day weekend travel, take precautions with an inventory of your wallet and bookmark this post, then go back to enjoying your vacation. We hope that you never have to use this list, but it is here for you in case it does happen.
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