How to Recover from Losing Your Wallet


Last Updated: February 24th, 2020


That moment when you start to panic as you pat yourself down to find your wallet, and it's not there. You check every place imaginable and even sit down to rethink your steps. You have asked your family, friends and even called places you think you might have left it. If all else fails and hours later you still can't find your wallet or have not received a call with somebody finding it, you need to begin the process of recovery.

It's always better to assume that your wallet is stolen rather than thinking you left it in a place no one could find. If you don't do anything about your lost or stolen wallet then you can easily become a victim

Step 1: Write a List

The first step to recovery is physically writing a list of all the items in your wallet. This is a general list of what could be found in wallets:

  • Credit card(s)
  • Debit/ATM card(s)
  • Driver's License
  • Social Security card
  • Passport(s)
  • Insurance card(s)
  • Military identification card(s)

Step 2: Cancel Your Credit/Debit Cards

Call your bank and credit card company to cancel your cards. This is a precaution if someone finds your cards and tries to use it fraudulently. If you go into your local bank you can usually receive a temporary card with another form of identification (passport, birth certificate or social security card) until you receive new cards which can take up to 10 days by mail.

  • VISA: 1-800-847-2911
  • MasterCard: 1-800-627-8372
  • Discovera: 1-800-347-2683
  • American Express: 1-800-297-1234

Step 3: File a Report to Local Police

Report your lost/stolen wallet to local police. Many people are intimidated or feel like they don't have the time to file a police report for something as small as a stolen wallet, but this can actually significantly help. Filing a policy report can assist in liability issues, identity theft fraud, insurance claims and more. Don't be scared to answer the questions in the report, it will all be basic questions:

  • Where do you think you lost your wallet?
  • When do you think you lost your wallet?
  • What was the actual content in your wallet at the time? How much cash? Which credit cards?
  • Write a description of your wallet.
  • If your wallet was stolen, are there any suspects or a description of anyone that is suspicious?

After you filed the report, ask to have a copy so you can have it in your records.

Step 4: Obtain a New Driver's License

The next step is obtaining a new driver's license. Many states allow you to order a replacement driver's license online if you have your driver's license number. Other states will require that you actually come into a DMV. Replacing your driver's license does come with a fee and is generally no more than $30. For further details on replacing your driver's license you can visit the DMV online.

Step 5: Contact Credit Bureaus

In the case that your wallet was stolen, you will want to call each of the credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to place a Fraud Alert of Credit Freeze on your account. With both of these services applied to your credit, it makes it very unlikely for a thief to run up high bills in your name.

Step 6: Update Online Accounts & Subscriptions

Write out a list of all your online accounts and subscription services. This would include your online banking automatic bill pay or subscription services like Netflix. Unfortunately, since you have already cancelled those credit or debit card numbers, you won't have the updated information to make those necessary payments. This means you have to go back and add new information to each one of these accounts. Other common subscriptions and automatic payments are:

  • Hulu Plus
  • Your Gym Membership
  • Magazine or Newspapers
  • Cell Phone Plan
  • Television Cable
  • Loans
  • Insurance
  • Internet Provider
  • Utilities Bill

Step 7: Get a New Wallet

The easiest part about losing a wallet is buying a new one. You'll want a new wallet to keep everything in one place, especially since you'll be getting different cards at different times.

If you had other items or cards in your wallet that was not addressed, then the best thing is to call up the organization that you had obligations to. They can best inform you of the process you need to go through in order to replace the item. It might be helpful to ask if there is a fee to replacing it.

The process of recovering everything after you lost your wallet isn't the easiest, and it definitely isn't the quickest either. Keep in mind that you want to make all of these necessary steps or calls soon after you lost your wallet. Some organizations require that you report a lost or stolen wallet within a certain timeframe of the incident (e.g. 24 hours). Recovering your lost wallet is not a fun lesson to learn, but you can almost guarantee that you won't lose it again!

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