Lost Purse or Wallet? Take Steps to Protect Yourself
If your wallet or purse goes missing, you stand to lose more than the cost of replacing it. While, it’s true you have protection from excessive losses, you have to take the appropriate steps to ensure that protection.
As soon as you realize it’s lost or stolen, call the police and make sure a police report is filed. Get a copy or at least write down the report number. If you become a victim of identity theft, it will be important to prove when you reported the loss.
Next, make a list of all items lost and report the loss to everyone on the list, starting with your credit union and credit card issuers. Be sure to close existing accounts and open new ones so your creditors can prevent fraudulent transactions that haven’t already taken place.
Federal law limits your liability for unauthorized purchases made using your credit cards to $50 per credit card account, if you report the loss within two business days. MasterCard and Visa both have zero liability with proper notice. Wait more than 60 days, though, and your losses could be unlimited. There are similar protections for ATM and debit cards.
Keep a record of everyone with whom you spoke and note the date and time. Follow up with letters that summarize your conversations so you have a paper trail in case it becomes necessary to prove you reported the loss.
Even after you report the losses and change your accounts, it is important that you closely monitor every financial statement you receive for unauthorized charges. Also, call each of the three credit-reporting bureaus: Equifax at 800-525-6285 (www.equifax.com); Experian, 888-397-3742 (www.experian.com); and TransUnion, 800-680-7289 (www.transunion.com).
Ask each of them to place a fraud alert on your report. After placing a fraud alert on your files, you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three bureaus, according to Consumer Reports Money Advisor.
Copy the front and back of everything in your wallet now so you will have contact numbers and a record of who you should call if such a loss ever happens to you.