If you’ve ever lost your wallet, you know how overwhelming and debilitating the experience can be. If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky — but not infallible. None of us are immune to theft — or absent-mindedness.
If you still have your wallet safely in your possession, there’s no time like the present to take some precautionary measures.
First off, remove the unnecessary documents from your purse or wallet. You likely don’t need things like your passport, birth certificate, cheque book or SIN card for day-to-day activities. Second, take photocopies of all your pertinent documents – your Health Card, Driver’s License, credit cards and any other photo ID you may be carrying. Now store them in a safe place — if the unthinkable happens, they might come in handy.
Thirdly, if you have any gift cards with substantial balances, write them down — along with any numbers that might identify them. Some companies may be able to cancel them and issue you new ones if you lose them.
If you do end up losing your wallet, here are some steps to take to minimize your vulnerability to fraud:
1. Cancel all credit cards and bankcards. A simple Google search of the specific name of your type of credit card should give you the number to call. If you bank online, all your account numbers should be there — making it easier to navigate the system. If not, the operator will simply ask you a number of security questions. Hint: It may be faster to have your new credit card delivered to your bank branch, rather than your home address.
To get a new bankcard, you’ll likely have to make a trip to a branch — this should be one of the first things you do since you’ll need cash to recover the rest of your identity.
2. Call the police. While it might seem like a waste of time, this is one of the most important things you can do. If you’re lucky, your wallet will eventually probably make it back to a police station – even if it’s years down the road. If you’re in their computer system, they’ll be able to contact you. In the same token, if someone uses your ID for fraudulent purposes, you won’t be on the hook for it if you’ve reported the wallet missing.
3. Call the credit bureaus. Both Equifax and TransUnion allow you to flag your credit report should you lose your wallet. This is a very crucial step because if anyone tries to take out a loan with your ID, the financial institution will see that your ID has been stolen when they check your credit score.
4. Obtain new government documentation. When you apply for new government documentation, the old documents will immediately become null and void.