A lost or stolen purse or wallet is something many of us unfortunately deal with at some point during the course of our lives. Reaching for your purse or into your pocket for your wallet and realizing it is out of your possession can cause panic – but it doesn’t need to. With a little planning the situation can be reduced from a financial catastrophe to a mere inconvenience.
LIMIT THE EXPOSURE
The best defense against having the items in your purse/wallet compromised is to limit your exposure to possible theft and limit your exposure to the possible results. First and foremost, and this is really common sense, don’t leave your purse/wallet unattended in an unsecured area. This is especially relevant for women as they often have to leave there purse at their desk or work area. Try to keep it in a locked drawer or cabinet if possible.
Also, limit the items you carry in your purse/wallet as much as possible. For most people it makes sense to carry only a small amount of cash and instead to use debit and credit cards for most transaction. Once cash is lost it is gone forever while debit and credit cards can be canceled. Keep the number of cards you carry as low as possible also. By keeping only the cards you use on a regular basis with you the number of cards you need to cancel if lost is reduced, as is the number of cards that could be used by possible thieves.
Finally, never carry your social security card or Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) in your purse or wallet.
MAKE A LIST
You should always know what exactly is inside your purse or wallet. Trying to remember which cards to cancel and the phone numbers to call in order to cancel them can be difficult, especially when you’re stressed out about losing them in the first place. Make a list on a piece of paper or in a file on the computer with the contents and the following information: item description, bank name if applicable, account number, and customer service phone number. This way you can react quickly to cancel cards and order replacements if you find yourself in this situation.
As soon as you know your purse/wallet is missing, and not just misplaced, grab a telephone. Call to cancel all of your debit and credit cards immediately. Don’t forget to call any business where you are a member also such as gyms or warehouse shopping clubs. If you know your purse/wallet was stolen contact the police to file a report.
Take steps to protect yourself from identity theft also. If you feel your identity and personal information might be compromised you need to place a fraud alert on your credit files. You can do this quickly by calling Experian at 1-888-397-3742, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. They will notify the other credit bureaus who will also place fraud alerts on your file making it more difficult for someone to use your information illegally.
Another good reason not to carry all of your credit cards in your purse/wallet is you will have a backup if you need it. It is always good to keep one or two credit cards at home in a safe place to use while you wait for replacements on the cards that were lost or stolen.
Losing your wallet or purse, or worse having them stolen, can be a frightening and frustrating experience. With a little planning you can limit the damage and make your recovery from the even must quicker and easier. Like the Boy Scouts of America teach, “Be Prepared”.