Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

We all understand the sense of panic that occurs when we realize that our purse or wallet has gone missing. For most people, a good portion of their life is either in their purse or wallet. Money, credit cards, driver’s license, family photos, and so forth. If all of these important pieces of information were to fall into the wrong hands it definitely would be devastating.

Of course, it would be sad to lose the money but more importantly it would be a travesty if you were to become a victim of identity fraud and theft. That type of repercussion could last for years. Therefore, it is vital that you follow a few of the following steps if ever you were to lose your purse or wallet. Though this type of occurrence would be unfortunate, the following information can help to make things go a little easier.

Misplaced?

The first thing to do is to make sure that your wallet or purse has actually been lost or stolen. Perhaps you simply misplaced it. Maybe you left it in your desk at work or could it have fallen between the sofa or car cushions? The following steps will help if your wallet or purse has been lost or stolen but if it has simply been misplaced then going through the following steps may cause you some additional grief. Therefore, before you continue with any of the following steps make sure that you have checked everywhere and have asked everyone.

Credit, ATM, Debit Cards

Many people may suggest to you that you need to cancel all of your credit, debit, ATM cards immediately. However, if you do this it could put specific wheels in motion that could leave your future credit score in a mess. Rather, what you need to do is to report all of your cards as stolen or lost. This is an entirely different procedure than canceling and it will only suspend your cards and not cancel them.

There are various 1-800 numbers to call for Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and Amex. If you use a card from a credit union or bank then call them in regards to the card numbers and any checks (including travelers checks) that you may have been carrying. Once you have called all of the above phone numbers you need to make sure that you receive your new cards as soon as possible. Also make sure that everything remains the same including accrued air miles and credit limits.

Keep in mind that some of your cards may have been used for automatic debits. If this is the case then you will need to contact those companies prior to the automatic debit being implemented. This is important because if you do not contact these companies then your account will not be paid and it could go past due, be suspended, or accumulate additional late fees.

Fraud Alert

You will need to notify the three major credit reporting agencies. They include Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. When you have a fraud alert in place with these reporting agencies then a creditor will need to verify your identity prior to approving any new credit. This will prevent a thief from running up a huge bill on your behalf.

Report the Loss/Theft

We have all heard the stories about how the police do not have time to deal with minor cases such as theft. While this may be true and you should not expect the local police force to immediately put all of their resources into tracking down your wallet or purse, it is important to report the loss or theft. The reason why it is important is because you will need to have evidence in case of becoming a victim of identity fraud or theft.

In the future, you do not want to be in a situation where you are explaining why you did not report the loss or theft. Some of the information that you can expect the police to ask you includes when and where you believe you lost your wallet, what was in the wallet, what is the description of the wallet, and do you have any suspicion about anyone who may have taken the wallet. Remember to keep a copy of the police report for future reference.

Driver’s License And Social Security Card

Most people keep their driver’s license and social security card in their purse or wallet. Unfortunately, it is an excellent piece of identification that can be used in fraud and theft. Therefore, report the loss of your driver’s license as soon as possible to your local DMV. You may be able to do this over the telephone or on the Internet but it is preferable to have someone drive you to the local office and do it in person. This will help to process the application quicker. The DMV will ask if you have filed a police report which hopefully you have already done. You can get your social security card replaced quickly at https://www.assistedonlinefilings.com/.

Change Locks

Often, a person will carry a spare house key in their purse or wallet. If a thief has stolen your wallet and now has possession of a house key, it will be vital to have all of your house locks changed immediately. Therefore, if you know for sure that your house key was in your wallet have all of the appropriate locks changed. Most hardware stores carry a vast selection of locks that will allow you to easily change them. If you feel that you cannot do this type of job then rest assured because you can also choose a reputable locksmith to do the work for you.

Prevention

While it may be impossible to prevent someone from stealing your wallet or from losing it, it is possible to minimize the inconvenience. For example, do you really need to carry all of those debit and credit cards? In most cases you only require one main card and therefore you should simply leave the rest at home. That also goes for other important pieces of information and ID such as social insurance cards, phone numbers, home addresses, passwords, and any other relevant pieces of personal information.