ITRC Fact Sheet 104
My Wallet, Purse or PDA was Lost or Stolen - Now what?

This guide covers the following:

While a lost or stolen wallet or PDA may simply mean the loss of your cash and credit cards, it may also be the beginning of an identity theft case. Hope for the best while taking steps to reduce your risk of identity theft. The return of the item does not guarantee that cards were not copied, so you need to proceed as if the items were stolen.
 
This guide will serve as a starting point of what to do and whom to call. If the situation evolves into identity theft, please refer to our other self-help guides or contact our office toll-free at 888-400-5530.

What was in your wallet and/or purse?

The following is a list of items that may be in your wallet or purse that can lead to identity theft or other forms of fraud if stolen.

  • Your Social Security card
  • Military ID card
  • Medicare or MediCal card 
  • Social Security cards (or numbers) for any other family members, i.e. spouse, children
  • Social Security number (SSN) printed on any card
  • Driver’s license
  • Credit cards
  • Vehicle registration papers
  • ATM/ Debit cards/ Bank cards
  • Health insurance/prescription/dental benefit card - Did it have your SSN on it?
  • Professional licenses (doctor, nurse, etc.)
  • Employee or student ID card - Did it have your SSN on it?
  • Green card or immigration papers
  • Passport
  • Any bills/statements you may have been carrying (i.e., telephone, electricity, credit card)
  • Birth certificate
  • Store club cards (supermarket, Sam’s Club, Costco)
  • AAA or other auto insurance card
  • Library card
  • Video store card - (i.e. Blockbuster)
  • Health club card - Did it have your SSN on it?
  • Discount cards or annual passes (movie, amusement parks)


What other information was on your cell phone, tablet, or laptop?

  • Any numbers or codes from the items above
  • Addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and birthdates for friends, family, or business associates (some of these could lead to identity theft)
  • Codes, passwords, authorization information
  • Company proprietary information or intellectual property

Steps to take immediately:

1. Police report: Report the crime/loss to your local law enforcement agency. Give them a list of the items it contained (see above). Request a copy of the report as you might need it later. ITRC also recommends getting the business card or name of the officer who took the report, the report number and a phone number to call if you have additional questions.

2. Credit or Fraud Alerts: Contact the three major credit reporting agencies (CRAs) by telephone, listed below. Use the “Report Fraud” numbers for each CRA (refer to ITRC Solution 3). You will reach an automated system that allows you to provide your phone number. We highly recommend you include a home or cell phone number. See ITRC Fact Sheet 100Financial Identity Theft – the Beginning Steps and ITRC Fact Sheet 124 for information on placing fraud alerts.

- Equifax (800) 525-6285
- Experian (888) 397-3742
- Trans Union: (800) 680-7289
 
Ask for a fraud alert and your free report as a potential victim of identity theft. The CRAs are required to provide you with a complimentary credit report when you place a fraud alert. This report gives you the opportunity to check for any pending credit applications and to verify that all the current information is correct. It becomes an accurate baseline for the fraud alert and may alert you to suspicious activity.
 
In 2 to 3 months you should begin to use the federal annual credit report system, www.annualcreditreport.com (for more information, see ITRC Fact Sheet 125.) If there are problems, please refer to our ITRC Fact Sheet 100 for guidance. If your SSN is being used, you may want to consider a “credit freeze” explained in ITRC Fact Sheet 124.

3. Driver’s License or State ID: If your Driver’s license or vehicle registration was taken, contact the state agency that issues driver’s licenses. Place a stolen/lost card warning on your file. At this time, request a replacement. If you discover that a thief is using your license, you can request a license number change. If your vehicle registration papers are missing, notify your state agency of this as well.
  
4. Credit Cards and Account Documents: If you are missing credit cards or copies of bills, contact the card issuers that issued the stolen/lost card(s). Request replacement cards with new account numbers. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit grantors to furnish copies of any fraudulent transactions for that account. Monitor your mail for collection notices, missing statements or bills. Check bills for evidence of new fraudulent activity and report any problems immediately to credit grantors.  If a problem is discovered, please refer to ITRC Fact Sheet 100.

5. Checks and Checking Account Information If you have lost checking account numbers, savings account numbers, checks, ATM cards, or debit cards, contact the bank immediately and close the account. Open a new account with a new number. Add a password on the account. It sometimes helps to go directly to the local branch and speak face-to-face with a bank manager or fraud investigator. Do not waste time explaining your case to a teller.  Please refer to ITRC Fact Sheet 126 for additional information on checking account takeover and check fraud.

To report fraudulent use of your checks:

  • ChexSystems: (800) 428-9623
  • Certegy: (800) 437-5120   or  (877) 443-7283
  • TeleCheck: (800) 710-9898
  • Checkrite/Global Payments:   (800) 638-4600

Several of these companies do provide a “consumer report.” Order reports from those that do provide them.  They should be free.

Security Alert: ChexSystems and SCAN will let you place a 90-day Security Alert on your consumer report with them.

Phone: 800-513-7125
Or: 888-4-STOLEN

6. Military ID cards: Notify the personnel support detachment (PSD) and your immediate chain of command up to the commanding officer. Apply for a new ID card. In the event that a dependent’s ID card is involved, notify your immediate supervisor, the PSD, and secure a replacement.

7. Green Card or immigration papers: Contact the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), as well as your country’s embassy.

8. Passports: In the case of a lost or stolen passport, it is important to notify the U.S. Department of State immediately and fill out Form DS-64. In the event the passport was issued by another country, notify the issuing country’s embassy. For more information visit http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/lost-stolen.html

9. Workplace theft: If your wallet or PDA was lost or stolen at work, notify both the HR and Security Departments. You might recommend a notice be posted warning other personnel to take additional security precautions. For example, women should not be storing wallets or purses in unlocked, desk drawers.

10. Stolen Social Security Card

Do this every year at the end of January for everybody whose card was stolen:

  • Every year, obtain a copy of your Social Security Statement from the Social Security Administration. This Statement will provide you with a record of annual payments entered into your Social Security account over time. This Statement is available free online. You may use this statement to determine if too much taxable earnings have been reported under your Social Security number, for example: if somebody has gained employment under your information.
    • Go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount/ and follow the steps to create an account. This will allow you to download your Social Security Statement. 
    • If you are unable to go online to access this information, you can call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
  • Do not request your Social Security Earnings Statement at this time. There is a fee for this more detailed statement which identifies employers who have paid into your SSA account.  At this time, you want your free Social Security Statement only.
  • Check the earnings section against your yearly W2s. If it is incorrect, file a police report for employment fraud or identity theft. Then read Solution 27 on the ITRC website for further instructions. http://www.idtheftcenter.org/Solutions/sn-27.html

If you are requesting the information on a minor child or a dependent adult please read Solution 27 http://www.idtheftcenter.org/Solutions/sn-27.html

Refer to ITRC Fact Sheet 100A for further information on more complex cases.

To report Social Security fraud: call (800) 269‑0271 or E-mail:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Refer also to the Social Security Administration’s website: www.ssa.gov

11: Stolen Smart Phone:

Call your service provider and have them cancel your service and report your phone missing. Treat the loss of your smartphone as you would the loss of a wallet or purse.  

  • Itemize what information was stored on your phone and what websites could be accessed. This includes your bank accounts, online purchases, digital wallet, etc.
  • Proceed to secure these accounts just as you would if actual credit cards or account information had been stolen.
  • If you have enrolled in a backup / wiping program, contact the administrator of your program and have them “wipe” your phone.

12: Birth Certificate

Notify the issuing county recorder’s office of the loss. In the future, do not carry this on your person unless needed that day.

13: Health insurance: Notify the medical insurance carrier immediately. Request a replacement policy number.

14: Auto insurance/AAA: Notify the insurance company immediately. You don’t want someone using your information in the event of an accident. Request a replacement policy number.

Other Items:

  • Discount or annual passes: Notify the issuing business and see if they have a replacement policy.  
  • Library and video store cards: Contact the issuing company/agency. Ask for that account to be closed and another opened with a replacement number. You may also want to add a password to the new account.
  • All other cards with a membership or identification number printed on the card (SSN or another number): Contact the issuing company, school, or employer. Notify them of the loss and request a replacement card with a new account number. In the event that the SSN was the membership number, request that an alternate number be used or that a letter be added to the membership number. This will help to separate your usage from that of the thief.
  • Renewable long distance calling cards: Contact the company. Request that they transfer any remaining minutes to another card with a new account number. Close the account to the card.

Tips for Dealing with the Authorities and Financial Institutions:

  • Keep a log of all conversations, receipts for expenses, and other pertinent items. See ITRC Fact Sheet 106 - Organizing Your Case.
  • Request a written verification that accounts have been closed (including time and date), and/or a confirmation number.
  • Send correspondence by certified mail, return receipt requested.
  • Keep copies of all letters and documents that you send and receive.
  • Whenever possible, speak with a fraud investigator and not a customer-service representative. If you are not satisfied with the answers given, request to speak with a supervisor. Keep going up the chain of command until you reach a decision-maker.
  • Add passwords to bank, utility and credit accounts. A strong password should be more than 8 characters in length, and contain both capital letters and at least one numeric or other non-alphabetical character.  Use of non-dictionary words is also advised.

Preventative Tips:

  • Photocopy the front and back of all important cards you carry including credit cards. Keep original documents in a locked box. 
  • PDAs: Use password protection so that if your PDA is turned on by an unauthorized user only a log-in screen will appear. Add instructions on how to contact you to return the device. Most password products range in features and price ($10-$30). Some of the more full-featured products offer data encryption, while others simply offer a password on startup, leaving the data in the device unencrypted. You should also keep a backup of the data on your PDA to use as a starting inventory should it be lost. Additionally, some smart phones have a “remote wipe” ability, allowing you to delete all information off your phone in the event that you lose it. 
  • Close credit card accounts you don’t use any longer. If you haven’t used a card for at least 6 months, you probably don’t need it. Only carry one or two cards on a daily basis. 
  • Purses with shoulder straps should be tucked under an arm. Make sure that your purse is in your line of vision. Book bags and carry-alls that hang over your back, out of sight, are easy targets. 
  • For men and women: Use a fanny pack to store your wallet and valuables when you know you will be in large crowds. Place the pack so that it is in front of your body and always in your line of vision. Any fanny pack used should have a cable in the strap and reinforced bottom to prevent slicing, plus additional inside zippers to keep things compartmentalized.  

This fact sheet should not be used in lieu of legal advice. Any requests to reproduce this material, other than by individual victims for their own use, should be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

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