Losing your wallet or having it stolen is distressing…to say the least! Who wants to cancel all their credit cards and report their debit cards lost and have weeks go by with finances in limbo?

Take these steps immediately to minimize the fallout:

1. File a police report

If your pocketbook doesn’t turn up after a diligent search, assume it was stolen and file a police report. Many cities allow residents to file reports online. Otherwise, tell the officer when the purse was missing, where it was likely lost or stolen, and the contents. Make copies of the police report to share with the bank, credit card companies, and credit bureaus.

2. Notify the bank

Notify the bank that your wallet has been lost or stolen and provide it with a copy of the police report and corresponding case number. The bank may recommend you close the account and transfer its funds to a new account. Also, ask the bank to contact the major check verification companies so they can notify stores not to accept any future checks from your compromised account.

3. Cancel your ATM/debit card

Cancel your ATM card and order a new one. Make sure to set up the new card with a different PIN number. It may take a couple weeks to receive a new card. Ask the bank if a temporary card is available.

4. Cancel your credit cards

Contact your credit card companies A.S.A.P. and cancel your credit cards. It is especially important to promptly notify your store credit cards since store credit cards typically have less protective fraud protection policies than major credit cards. Don’t cancel the account, though, because that can hurt a credit score. When possible, it is best to apply for a new credit card within the same account.

5. Notify the three major credit reporting agencies

Call the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; and Experian: 1-888-397-3742) and ask for the fraud or security department. Ask the credit reporting agency to put a fraud alert on your credit report.

6. Get a new driver's license

Contact the local Department of Motor Vehicles to find out the requirements for obtaining a replacement driver's license. While waiting for a replacement license, keep a copy of the police report in your car in case you get pulled over.

7. Get a free copy of your credit report

A few weeks after you've lost your wallet, order a free copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com to check if any fraudulent transfers have been made in your name. Important: The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to your credit report for free from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—every twelve months. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only authorized source for the free annual credit report that’s yours by law.

8. Report fraudulent transactions to the police

If you notice any fraudulent transactions, you may need to file a police report. Some financial institutions/credit card companies will file this police report for you.

Other Tips:

  • Plan ahead: Write down the contents of your wallet. A simple way to do this is to photocopy the front and back of all the cards in your wallet (make sure you make a copy of your driver's license too), and then store this document in a protected place in your home such as in a safe. Also, make a contact list with the phone numbers for your local police department, bank, credit card companies, credit reporting agencies, and Department of Motor Vehicles. If you do lose your wallet, your pre-prepared wallet contents list and contact list will make your life much easier.
  • Label your wallet with your phone number: Put a label with your phone number inside your wallet in case a Good Samaritan stumbles across it.
  • Keep some cash separate from your credit cards: Keep some cash in a money clip or pouch separate from your wallet. As such, if you lose your wallet, you will still have some cash to use. It is also a good idea to not store your checkbook in your wallet.
Don't Panic: How to Avoid Losing Big If Your Wallet Is Stolen