The Lifestyle Digs

What to do when your Wallet is Gone

Have you ever lost your wallet? Has your wallet ever been stolen?

There’s nothing worse than that panicky feeling when you suddenly realize your wallet isn’t where it should be.

Your drivers license, your cash, your credit cards – gone!

THINK FAST

You need to react quickly when you can’t find your wallet. If it’s been stolen, thieves are having a field day with your credit cards and bank cards.

When do you last remember seeing your wallet? What was the last thing you purchased? Did you leave your wallet at the gas station, restaurant, or grocery store?

Do you remember seeing your wallet when you got home? That’s the best case scenario. You’ve just misplaced it somewhere in the house. Retrace your steps and remember the rooms you went into. The wallet might be in the kitchen or the bathroom.

Check the car. Your wallet might be sitting on the passenger seat, inside the glove box, or fallen on the floor.

Hopefully retracing your steps will put the wallet back in your hands. Or an honest person turned it in to the cashier at the last place you made a purchase.

Do you live alone or are there other people in the household who might have moved your wallet from where you usually keep it? Is it your toddler’s new toy? Perhaps your spouse was looking for a twenty to pick up a pizza.

STOLEN OR MISSING?

You need to figure out fast if you’ve been the victim of a crime or if you, or someone else in your household, misplaced your wallet.

The car’s window is smashed in and your wallet was in there, but now it’s gone. It’s a good guess it was stolen.

If there’s not doubt in your mind that your wallet was in your pocket but it’s not there now, you’ve become a pickpocket’s latest victim.

You put your wallet in your grocery cart, turned your back for a few moments to peruse a shelf, and it’s not in the cart anymore – stolen! Let’s hope the store has security cameras and caught the thief in action so the tape can be turned over to the police.

On the other hand, if there’s no doubt in your mind that you brought the wallet inside your house, and you’re positive no interlopers entered the residence, you need to mount an all out search.

PHONE YOUR CREDIT CARD COMPANY

Depending on how many credit cards you keep in your wallet, you’ll need to phone several companies to cancel your cards.

If you have high limits on your credit cards, you’ll want to cancel them ASAP before much shopping damage is done. In most cases you will not be charged for anything the thief bought on your credit card. The credit card companies have insurance to cover their losses.

They’ll send out new cards but it could take a week or more.

CALL YOUR BANK

More than likely you have at least one bank card in your wallet. Unless the thief figures out your PIN, you’re probably not going to have any big ATM withdrawals against the account. Retailers are another story. Most point of sale machines can tap up to at least $100, so a fast-moving thief could hit a number of retailers and go on a shopping spree before you realize your wallet is missing.

Banks have insurance to cover these losses and the money will most likely eventually be put back in your account. Expect an investigation by the bank’s fraud department. Most banks will take their sweet time to replenish your account if you’ve been the victim of a crime.

GO TO THE MOTOR VEHICLE LICENSING BRANCH

Your driver’s license was inside your wallet, so you’ll need to make a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles or Driver Licensing Office to get a new one.

It sucks, but it’s probably going to cost money to get a replacement.

HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS

You’re starting to know the drill now. If you had any health care cards in your wallet, you’ll need to call the providers and request replacements.

In BC, our drivers license and medical card are merged into one now, so when you renew your driver’s license, the medical care card is done at the same time.

If your company has a health care plan and you carried a card in your wallet, the HR person should be able to assist. After all you don’t want the person who stole your wallet to buy new glasses or get dentures courtesy of your company’s health care plan.

AUTO CLUB

If you have AAA, CAA, BCAA or any other type of acronym for the auto association that helps you out if you need a tow, a jump start, or other emergency roadside assistance, call them for a replacement card.

LOYALTY CARDS

I’m not a big fan of loyalty cards. The kind where you get points for every dollar spent to cash in on a grocery item. Or you get a lower price on some groceries than Joe Schmoe just because you scan your loyalty card at the cash register.

Review of Save On Foods. Is it too Expensive?

I do a little rant on the Save On More rewards card on my post: Review of Save On Foods – Is it too Expensive?

London Drugs has a good loyalty program. After ten visits, you get $5 off that order. No loyalty card needed. It’s all electronically recorded. The cashier asks for your phone number or input it manually if using the self-serve check out.

CREDIT BUREAU

Depending on what was inside your wallet, like ID and bank cards, the thief can steal your identity and cause a lot of trouble.

You need to pull a credit report and see if anything weird is on there that you don’t recognize. Someone has stolen your identity and is applying for loans in your name.

You can put an alert on your credit file if your wallet is lost or stolen in case someone tries to apply for credit in your name.

Equifax and TransUnion are the best known credit reporting bureaus in Canada. Equifax is also used in the USA.

MAKE LIFE EASIER

Now that you’ve replaced all your cards, make life easier by taking steps to make sure this won’t happen again.

And if it does happen again, there will be less of an impact.

Take photos of all cards that you put in your wallet. That way you have the card numbers handy when you phone in to report them missing or stolen.

DECLUTTER YOUR WALLET

There was a time when I used to carry my Social Insurance Number – Canada’s version of the US Social Security card – and my birth certificate in my wallet, but I haven’t carried either in years.

One of the best ways to declutter your wallet is to buy a slim wallet. I’ve had a slim wallet for years. It fits nicely in my pocket and forces me to figure out what I really need in there.

(Disclosure: I’m an Amazon associate and if you click the link and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission for the referral.)

Here’s a popular slim wallet with RFID blocking capability. Price varies depending on the color, but comes in under $15.

In my wallet I keep my driver’s license, my bank card, my BCAA card, one credit card, and my Save On More card. I keep a $20 bill in there for those just in case moments, sometimes a little more cash, but not much more. Cash can’t be replaced the way a bank card can.

Back in the house I have two bigger wallets, one that I occasionally use, so it means transferring the stuff out of the slim wallet into the larger one. That wallet has a change purse and more slots for cards. I have a credit card in there plus more loyalty cards. My Costco card is in there, so no spur of the moment trips to Costco for me when that wallet’s at home!

The last wallet doesn’t have much going on for it, but I keep two extra credit cards in there. I keep the wallets plus other ID like my birth certificate in a fireproof document bag.

SORTING OUT THE MESS

Despite your best efforts, sometimes your wallet gets stolen or goes missing.

It’s going to be a traumatic experience calling your bank and credit card companies and being stuck on hold for an unreasonable amount of time.

Not to mention the inconvenience of going in person to replace your driver’s license.

It’ll be so much easier if there are less items you have to replace that were inside your wallet. You only need one credit card for emergencies in your wallet.

When it comes down to banking, a little financial advice is to get yourself down to one bricks and mortar financial institution and one or two online banks that have higher interest savings accounts. You don’t need a bunch of banks and their bank cards.

Simplify your life!

Don’t keep any more money than you have to inside your wallet. It’s always good to have some cash on hand, but not too much in case it goes missing.

What else is inside in your wallet that will be a hassle if it needs to be replaced? And does it really need to be in there?

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