Take these steps now – just in case your wallet or purse is stolen.
Catalog Your Information
WHN TIP – Helpful Form: To help with this process, download our Purse or Wallet Theft Checklist. Open the form with Acrobat Reader, fill it in, save to your desktop and print. You can download Acrobat Reader here. It’s FREE!
- Credit cards, IDs, personal items, etc.
- Photocopy every card (credit, debit, all insurance, Social Security, all IDs, and driver’s license) in your wallet, front and back.
- On the photocopy, write the card’s toll-free help number by the front.
- Make a list of everything that you normally carry in your wallet or purse.
- Electronics: MP3 player, cell phone, pager (note make/model/serial #)
WHN TIP – Cell Serial Number: To find your cell phone’s serial number, type in the following on your phone: star-pound-zero-six-pound (* # 0 6 #). A fifteen digit code will appear on the screen — this is your phone’s serial number. Write it down and keep it safe. If your phone is stolen, call your phone company and provide them with this number. They will then be able to block your handset, so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless.
- Camera (make/model/serial #)
- Checkbook and debit cards (bank name, name on card and account number)
- Credit Cards (name, #, exp. date, company)
- Insurance cards
- Jewelry (types, jewels)
- Keys (house, cars, office, etc)
- Makeup/personal items
- Membership/discount cards
- Planner or datebook
- Wallet and Purse Folders
- Make two folders. In each one, put the photocopies of your IDs, credit/bank cards and the list. Write the date at the top of each. Keep one folder in a safe place at home and one folder at work.
- Prepare a Master Information Box which contains copies of important documents and records, photos and contact information.
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
- Be safe and smart. Your safety should be the number one priority. Don’t fight over your wallet or purse. It’s not worth your life.
- Bright lights and heavily traveled areas are your best bet for safety.
- There is usually safety in numbers.
- Walk with a purpose, stand tall and keep your head up. Pay attention to your surroundings and the people around you.
- Don’t listen to music too loudly while walking – you need to hear what’s going on around you.
- Pickpockets usually work in pairs and prefer crowded malls, public transportation or other places where they can easily be in close proximity to their intended victim. If someone seems too close, trust your judgment.
- Don’t be afraid to cross the street, return to a business, or ask for help based on a “funny feeling.” You may be right!
- While shopping, don’t flash your purchases or a large amount of cash. This could attract unwanted attention.
- When walking to your car or home, get your keys out and ready to use before leaving a building or getting off public transportation.
- Be careful when using ATMs and phone cards. “Shoulder Surfers” can get your PIN and access to your accounts. Also be careful when writing checks or using credit cards.
- Before you head out the door, take out “barely used” credit cards and store them in a safe place at home.
- Do not carry any IDs you do not need unless it is necessary (birth certificate, Social Security card, passport).
WHN TIP – Medical Cards: Medical cards often use your social security number as your account number – carry your card only as needed.
- Money can be replaced. If you must carry a large amount of cash or valuables, keep them in an inside pocket.
- Keep sentimental, hard-to-replace mementos at home.
- Clean out your purse or wallet every month. This limits unnecessary data and gives you a better idea of losses to report to an insurance agent in case of theft. (Remember to update your folders and inventory lists!)
- Keep a list of emergency phone numbers (bank, credit card company, police) on your person. If your wallet is stolen, those numbers will be stolen as well.
- Don’t keep copies of debit/ATM card PINs or receipts in your wallet, purse or vehicle.
- If you carry a PDA, make sure it’s password-locked when not in use.
- Choose a purse/bag with a strap and a zipper. Keep your handbag closed, with one arm across it or with the strap crossing your body. Wear the strap under your jacket or sweater.
- Keep your keys separate from your handbag.
WHN TIP – Short errand? If possible, leave your handbag at home and carry only essentials in a pocket.
- Keep an eye on your purse or wallet. Don’t leave it in a grocery cart, a changing room or on your work desk.
- Consider purchasing a noisemaking device like a “shriek alarm” or whistle. When activated, these devices make a loud piercing noise that will attract attention and possibly scare off the thief.
- Other options include pepper spray, mace, stun guns, safety lights, etc. Some of these options are restricted in some areas — check with your local laws before purchasing or using.
- Consider enrolling in a self-defense class.
Starter Tips: Credit Cards And Checks
- Make sure your bank, credit card companies, etc. have your current contact information. If unusual activity appears on your account, companies may attempt to contact you and verify the activity. If your number is disconnected or your address is incorrect, it may be too late to remedy the problem.
- If possible, get credit cards with your picture on them.
- Sign your new credit cards before someone else does.
- Don’t ever leave receipts behind at ATMs, on counters at financial institutions, or at gasoline pumps.
- Don’t carry your full checkbook with you. Only take as many checks as you will need for the day.
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.