Was your wallet or purse stolen?
Here’s our top-line list on what to do now. For more information, read our Wallet / Purse Theft — What to Do article.
WHN TIP – Advice from Experts: Listen to this podcast for tips on how to describe a suspect.
- Be safe, be smart.
- Get to a safe place then call the police
- Give the dispatch operator the following details:
- Your name, address, home and cell number.
- What happened and where
- If you know who did it or can describe the thief.
- If a weapon was involved.
- What the thief took.
- Wait for the officer to arrive or to call you back.
- When the officer arrives, he or she may ask you questions similar to those asked earlier. Please be patient so the officer can help you. Answer questions as best you can.
- Ask the police how to get a copy of the police report.
- Note the name of the police officer who takes the report, your case number and the investigator (if any) assigned to it.
- Officer Name/City/Dept
- Case #
- Phone number for police report at a later time
- Make an inventory list of the items in your purse, clutch, briefcase or wallet including credit cards, cell phone, PDA, etc.
WHN TIP – Keep It Safe: Keep a copy of your wallet’s inventory form in a safe place at home and at your office. Why? So you have the information on hand when you call credit card companies about the theft. It also helps jog your memory about what is in your wallet and purse.
At Home or Office
- Make a “theft” folder and keep all related items in the folder.
- Call your credit card companies, alert them to your stolen credit cards and cancel each card.
WHN TIP – Last Statement: Don’t have the number or your credit card information? Find your last credit card statement — the information should be listed on there.
WHN TIP – Liability: In the event of bogus charges on your accounts, your maximum liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50 per card. If you reported the loss before your credit card was used, the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized charges.
- Call your bank and other financial institutions where you have accounts and alert them that there may be an attempt to fraudulently access your accounts.
WHN TIP – Passwords: For important passwords, do not use your mother’s maiden name, old addresses, pet names, etc. Choose “strong” passwords, which means an alphanumeric combination — i.e. AG47KL9.
WHN TIP – Toll-Free: If you don’t have a phone list of financial institutions or credit card companies, call (800) 555-1212 to get the toll-free numbers of creditors with (800) lines.
- Call one of the credit bureaus and have them put a fraud alert on your name.
- Let them know you have contacted the police. Ask them if they’d like a copy of the police report and/or the report number and investigators’ contact information.
WHN TIP – This Isn’t You: Even if a credit card wasn’t stolen, your ID or other identifying information can be used to open an account in your name. Every second counts.
- A few days after the theft, contact the police department to check on the status of your case. Be sure to have your case number ready.
- You will need to change your driver’s license number if it is listed on stolen checks or being used for other types of fraud.
- Contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to learn if another license was issued in your name; if so, place a fraud alert on your license and fill out a DMV complaint form to begin the investigative process.
- If your Social Security number was or might have been anywhere in your purse or wallet, call the Social Security Administration’s fraud line, (800) 269-0271.
- Even if you don’t carry your Social Security card with you, it may be the ID number on your health insurance card or other papers you might have had in your purse or wallet.
- For more information on Social Security fraud, visit the Social Security Administration fraud page.
- Whether you have a passport or not, write the State Department at the passport office to alert them to anyone who may order a passport fraudulently.
- Or call (877) 4USA-PPT [(877) 487-2778] for the passport office nearest you.
- If you believe an identity thief is making calls from your cell phone or has opened a new account in your name, call to cancel the account.
- If you don’t have their number on hand, call (800) 555-1212 to get their toll-free number, if they have one.
- Getting a new number? Provide a password that must be used for all changes to your cell, local and long distance companies.
Replacement of Valuables, Documents, and Records
WHN TIP – Timelines: The recovery process takes a lot of time. Be patient.
- Don’t be surprised if you remember additional items that were in your purse/wallet — when you do remember, add them to your list.
- Keep copies of all theft-related letters, receipts and documents you send and receive. Put these in your “theft” folder.
- Obtain a copy of the police report.
- Check with your insurance company to see if any of the stolen items are covered under your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy.
- In order to fully protect yourself, follow up with your credit and other financial institutions in writing or e-mail, explaining what happened and what you need them to do. Keep a paper copy of all e-mail correspondence.
- Send all theft-related documents via certified or return-receipt mail so you can track the process (Save receipts from the post office or delivery office. Expenses incurred may be tax-deductible; consult your accountant for more information).
Receiving and Reviewing Your Credit Reports
- Save all credit reports as part of your fraud documentation.
- Review your credit reports from each bureau.
- Make sure no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name.
- If fraudulent accounts are listed on your report, ask the credit bureaus for names and phone numbers if this information is not included on the credit report.
- You may also ask the credit bureaus to notify those who have received your credit report in the last six months (money lenders, banks, credit card companies, etc.) that fraudulent information is on your report.
WHN TIP – Debt Collectors: For additional information on dealing with debt collectors, read Fact Sheet No. 116 of the Identity Theft Resource Center under “Victim Resources.”
Credit Card and Bank Statements
- Review your statements carefully and compare each charge to your statement.
WHN TIP – Unauthorized Charge Liability: In the event of bogus charges on your accounts, your maximum liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50. If you reported the loss before your credit card was used, the FCBA (Fair Credit Billing Act) says the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized charges.
WHN TIP – 60 Days: You must report the error or unauthorized charge within 60 days after the company mailed the bill to you. The company must acknowledge the receipt of your letter within 30 days and must correct the error within 90 days or explain why it believes the statement is correct.
- If you discover that an identity thief has changed the billing address on an existing credit card account, close the account.
- When you open a new account, ask that a password is used before any inquiries or changes can be made on the account.
- Continue to keep an eye out for identity theft.
- Review your credit reports, bank statements and credit cards for any fraudulent activity.
- Dealing with debt collectors relating to fraudulent charges? Read Fact Sheet No. 116.
- Dealing with criminal concerns.
WHN TIP – Fraud Alerts: Consider whether you’d like to remove or extend the fraud alert flag on your credit report file(s). A fraud alert on your file may make it difficult to access “instant credit.” For example, if you’re at a store and they offer 10 percent off your purchases that day if you apply and are approved for a store card on the spot, the alert may delay your qualification. If this convenience isn’t crucial, you may want to consider extending the alert.
The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional legal advice. These tips are from industry professionals, lawyers, insurance agents and people who have shared real-life advice; always check with a lawyer or appropriate professional you trust before making any legal decisions.
Thank You …
A special thank you to the industry professionals, lawyers, insurance agents, first responders and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.