I know the sinking feeling.
I was at a business conference the first time I lost my cherished Black Trifold Wallet.
I still remember the panic that set in. Much like you, my first thought was to find it.
Then, I began backtracking. Did I leave it in my hotel room? At the restaurant? In the car?
It dawned on me just what I potentially stood to lose: a couple of bookstore and restaurant loyalty programs, my driver’s license, three credit cards, a gym membership card, a debit card, and some cash.
After enduring hours of panic, I eventually found it, nestled within my jacket’s inner pocket—apparently the last place I had thought of checking.
If you’re in the same situation, rest assured, I understand the frustration it brings.
While it might initially seem like the end of the world, you can still protect your information, recover important documents, or better yet, find your lost wallet, just like I did.
In today’s article, I’ve put together six steps to take in case your wallet goes missing.
- How a wallet tracker can help you to quickly locate your lost wallet
- The importance of swiftly alerting your bank following a wallet loss
- Different ways to contact a credit bureau for initiating a credit freeze
- Measures to protect your wallet against future losses
So let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
It’s natural to get into panic mode once you realize that your wallet isn’t where it usually is, whether this is your front pocket, desk drawer, bag, or coat pocket.
However, it’s crucial to give yourself enough time to search for it.
A good starting point would be asking yourself questions like:
- Where did I last see my wallet?
- What was I wearing when I last had my wallet?
- What was I doing when I last had the wallet?
Retracing your steps will help you save a lot of time and avoid unnecessary measures like freezing your credit.
Ryan Cicchelli, founder of Generations Insurance & Financial Services in Cadillac, Michigan, share his perspective concerning this matter:
"The logical knee-jerk reaction here is to put an immediate stop to any possibility of money being liberated from your accounts as soon as possible. People who start here are not wrong, necessarily, but I’ve heard stories of people canceling every card in their wallet only to find it in their other pants' pocket the next day."
True to this, you may have inadvertently slipped your wallet into a pair of pants that’s now neatly folded in your closet.
So make sure to thoroughly check all possible areas where your wallet might be in.
Remove your seat cushions to check if it slipped inside. Search your car to ensure it didn’t fall on the floor.
And if you happen to have a tracking device, knowing your wallet’s whereabouts becomes even easier.
After my own near-miss, I decided to invest in an Apple AirTag, which I’ve securely attached to my wallet. It effortlessly connects to my iPhone via Bluetooth, using a UI chip.
In case my wallet goes missing, I can quickly locate it by opening the FindMy app and checking the “Connected Items” tab. My wallet’s current location will remain displayed on my device as long as it’s within 800 feet.
While it may seem like a hefty investment, an AirTag can be a lifesaver for your wallet. In case you lose it, you can always recover it quickly.
I’d highly recommend you to purchase Apple AirTags to enhance your wallet’s safety.
They’re not only water-resistant but also compatible with any iOS device that has a U1 Chip, and boast an incredible battery life.
And thanks to their separation alert feature, you’ll receive a notification on your phone in case you accidentally leave your wallet far behind.
To keep your AirTag safely nestled in your wallet, consider the Popov Leather AirTag Cases.
"Super stylish, and it fits the air tags perfectly. The latch is super convenient, I was able to attach it to an inside pocket in my luggage. Another winning product from Popov Leather."
Check out how the we make our AirTag cases in the Instagram Reel below:
2 - Alert Your Bank to Cancel or Freeze Your Debit Cards
You can’t seem to find your wallet, even after searching all the likely places.
At this point, you can be fairly certain that your wallet is gone.
Now, it’s time to protect yourself from potential financial and identity theft risks. Reach out to your bank and inform them of your situation right away.
There are multiple compelling reasons why I recommend alerting your bank in the event of a wallet loss:
- Prevent unauthorized transactions: You can request the bank to immediately block your debit card to prevent unauthorized transactions.
- Protect your bank accounts: If your wallet has your bank account or routing number, the bank will help to prevent unauthorized withdrawals or transfers from your bank account and monitor any suspicious activity.
- Dispute unauthorized charges: Most banks have policies that protect you from liability from fraudulent transactions. But to enjoy these protections, you must alert the bank of the loss in good time.
Canceling your cards will permanently deactivate them and your bank will issue you a replacement card that has a new number.
To contact your bank, simply log into the bank’s website. You should find a number that’s specifically used for reporting stolen or lost cards.
Below are the numbers for some of the top banks to report your lost card:
- Bank of America: 1-800-432-1000
- JP Morgan Chase: 1-800-935-9935
- Citibank: 1-800-950-5114
- Wells Fargo: 1-800-869-3557
- PNC Bank: 1-888-762-2265
- Royal Bank of Canada (RBC): 1-800-769-2512
- Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank): 1-866-222-3456
- Bank of Montreal (BMO): 1-800-361-3361
- CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce): 1-800-663-4575
Oftentimes, it can be frustrating to cancel your credit or debit cards only to find your wallet later.
That’s why some banks allow you to temporarily lock your cards and then unlock them when you recover your lost wallet.
Usually, you don’t even need to have a bank representative to make this happen.
Most banks, including the Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, RBC, TD, and CIBC allow you to do so using their banking applications or online banking portals.
3 - Inform Your Credit Card Issuer to Cancel Your Credit Card
Hackers will often “validate” stolen credit card numbers by initially making small purchases, a practice commonly referred to as carding.
To prevent any unauthorized transactions, promptly inform your credit card issuer of your loss.
This proactive step will ensure that even if a thief attempts to make any purchases, you won’t be held responsible.
Below are the contacts for some of the major credit card companies in the US and Canada:
- Visa: 1-800-847-2911
- Mastercard: 1-800-627-8372
- Discover: 1-800-347-2683
- American Express: 1-800-528-4800
- BMO: 1-800-361-3361
- CIBC: 1-800-663-4575
- RBC: 1-800-769-2512
It’s best to report your cards missing as soon as possible. With debit cards, provided you report the loss within two business days, you won’t be responsible for any funds used during this time.
But after this time, you may have to pay for up to $50 in fraudulent purchases, increasing to $500 if you wait 60 days.
For credit cards, the issuers have the right to charge up to $50 for fraudulent purchases, but you most likely won’t be charged a penny if you act swiftly.
4 - Freeze Your Credit
Just like the name suggests, a credit freeze acts as a powerful safeguard, stopping anyone from using your credit.
This implies that nobody, including yourself, can secure credit approvals under your account until you choose to lift the freeze.
When it comes to freezing your credit, please note that each credit bureau has its own process.
So if you want to do the freezing with all the three bureaus, you’ll need to follow each procedure separately:
- Equifax: Head over to Equifax’s security freeze page and click on “PLACE A SECURITY FREEZE” to get started.
- Experian: Create an account on Experian’s credit freeze page, then proceed to freezing your account.
- TransUnion: Just like with the other two bureaus, head over to TransUnion’s credit freeze page to create an account before freezing your credit.
You can also contact the three bureaus to place a Potential Fraud Alert on your credit file, at no extra cost. This will help to prevent scammers from hurting your score or opening new accounts in your name.
Below are their contact details:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
But as I mentioned earlier, you won’t be able to access your credit report or apply for loans until you’ve unfrozen your account.
Luckily, the unfreezing process is pretty straightforward; it will take you only a few minutes and can be done entirely online.
To begin, you’ll need to contact each of the three credit bureaus individually. You can then choose your preferred method for unfreezing your credit.
This can be done online through the bureau’s portal, by calling a phone number dedicated for freezing, or by submitting your request via mail, although this last option often takes the longest.
When unfreezing your credit, you’ll need to provide personal information such as your full name, date of birth, social security number, and the PIN or password you used when you froze your credit.
You may also have to specify how long you want your credit report to remain unfrozen. This could be from a single day to an indefinite unfreeze period.
5 - Contact Your Local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
Alerting your Local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) after losing your wallet can help prevent identity fraud and protect your driving record because using your license for traffic violations can have negative effects on it.
Keep in mind that each state demands different requirements for proving your identity.
Therefore, before you apply for a new driver’s license, go to your local DMV’s website and check the specific documents required to establish your identity.
Furthermore, you’ll need to issue proof of your residency, so make sure you have documents such as your birth certificate, Social Security number, and utility bills like a recent electricity bill or current cell phone bill, all bearing your name and address.
Keep in mind that the DMV office will charge a small fee to replace your license. This fee varies from state to state, though it typically ranges from $10–$30, with some states charging more or less.
To get the most accurate information on the replacement of your license, visit the official website of your DMV or contact your local DMV office directly.
6 - File a Police Report
- A police report will come in handy when filing an insurance claim for your valuables that were lost alongside your wallet. It acts as official documentation of the event.
- With a police report, you can prove that you’re a victim of crime in case your lost wallet is used for illegal activities like financial scams, fraud, or identity theft.
- A report file with your information will come handy in your wallet’s recovery if someone finds it and brings it to the police.
- After filing a police report, you’ll receive a case number and documentation to show your bank or creditors as proof in case you experience fraud.
Failure to file a police report may cost you a lot since your creditors may not believe that you’re a victim of fraud.
Don’t call 911 if you lose your wallet. 911 is reversed for emergencies that need immediate intervention from law enforcement, medical personnel, or the fire department.
Instead, call the non-emergency number of your local police (which you can find on their official website) or visit the station in person to file a report.
Protect Your Wallet Against Any Future Loss
Losing a wallet and all its content can be frustrating, time-consuming, and a potential threat to your financial security.
Luckily, there are precautions you can take now to reduce the chances of it occurring again.
And at the very least, you’ll manage to rebound quicker.
Consider taking the following steps before leaving home with your beloved wallet:
Only Carry Essentials
Only have the items that you really need and frequently use in your wallet.
You can leave important identifying documents like your birth certificate, passport, and Social Security cards at home if you rarely use them.
Choose a Secure Wallet
Both wallets have a solid chain that can be attached to your belt or clothing. This way, it will be difficult to lose your wallet or for someone to snatch it.
"Very nice piece of leather. Perfect for motorcycle ride security. The brass chain is worth it alone. Now I won't keep reaching back every 10 minutes to make sure I still have my wallet."
Check out the key differences between the Biker Wallet and the Long Wallet below to find the most suitable for you:
|7.5" L x 3.5" W x 0.5" H
|3.25" L x 4" W x 0.4" H
|Typically larger and longer
|Typically smaller and more compact
|Holds up to 16 cards and has 2 wide inside pockets for unfolded cash
|Fits up to 6 cards and has a wide pocket to hold up to 10 bills
|Tends to be slimmer even when fully loaded
|Can be thicker when fully loaded
|Doesn’t include an ID/photo slot
|Includes an ID/photo slot
|Ideal for back pocket carry
|Ideal for front pocket carry
|Best Suitable For
|Individuals who carry a lot of cards, cash, and bills
|Minimalists who mainly carry essentials
Photocopy Key Contents
Make copies of important content in your wallet such as your insurance cards, IDs, and credit cards.
Keep these copies in a secure place at home so you can have a record of all that was in your wallet in case you lose it or misplace it.
Occasionally Empty Your Wallet
Periodically (at least once a month) clean out your wallet to eliminate items you don’t need anymore. This will reduce clutter and minimize the potential loss if your wallet goes missing.
Use a RFID-Blocking Wallet
The card blocks signals that hackers might use to scan your cards without physically stealing your wallet.
Track Your Wallet
I mentioned my Apple AirTag, but there are all types of trackers in the market, from standalone products like Cube and Tile to Samsung’s device-connected trackers. Simply research diligently to find the best one for your needs and budget.
A wallet loss can be a huge inconvenience. But as long as you act swiftly, you can prevent major financial losses and protect your personal information from potential identity theft.
By taking one step at a time, your life will be back to normal before you know it.
Article by Ryan Popoff
Ryan Popoff is the creative mind behind Popov Leather wallets, iPhone cases, belts, watch bands and journals since 2013. With a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts, my leatherworking journey began at home. I wanted to create a simple leather wallet that could fit into my front pocket and — to my delight — it was a hit with family and friends. Hopefully you love our honest, quality leather goods too! Reach out with questions.