By Matt Davis, Victim Advisor for the Identity Theft Resource Center
Once upon a time, having a wallet or purse stolen meant you were out some cash and you might have to order a few new credit cards. As identity theft has become more common, having a wallet or purse stolen these days might be just the beginning of an identity theft nightmare. In order to ensure you’re not putting yourself at unnecessary risk this holiday season, do a quick inventory of your wallet or purse so you know exactly what is (and what is not) being carried around with you when you go out.
What is in your wallet and/or purse?
• Social Security cards (or numbers) for yourself and any family members
• Military ID card
• Medicare or MediCal card
• Driver’s license
• Credit cards (itemize)
• Vehicle registration or insurance papers
• ATM / Debit cards / Bank cards
• Health insurance / prescription / dental benefit card
• Professional licenses
• Employee or student ID card
• Green card or immigration papers
• Bills / financial statements you may have been carrying
• Birth certificate(s)
• Store cards and frequent shopper cards
• Library, video store, and health club cards
• Discount cards or annual passes (movie, amusement parks)
Remove and securely store any items you don’t need on a day-to-day basis. List the remaining items on an inventory sheet and include the store or organizations’ contact numbers provided for use in the event of loss. Better yet, make a photo copy of the front and back of each card and store the document in a secure location.
In the event of a theft or loss, you should immediately:
File a police report with your local law enforcement agency and request a copy. Provide them a copy of wallet inventory. However, do not provide them with account numbers and your personal identifying information other than what is needed for the report.
Contact the three major credit reporting agencies (CRAs) through their “Report Fraud” numbers and request a fraud alert and your free credit report as a potential victim of identity theft. This report gives you the opportunity to check for any pending credit applications and to verify that all the current information is correct.
If your driver’s license or vehicle registration was taken, contact the state agency that issues driver’s licenses. Place a stolen/lost card warning on your file and request a replacement license. If you discover that a thief is using your license, you can request a license number change. Also notify this agency if your vehicle registration papers are missing.
If credit cards or copies of bills are missing, contact the card issuers. Request replacement cards with new account numbers. Monitor mail for collection notices, missing statements or bills. Check bills for evidence of fraudulent activity and report problems immediately.
If checking account numbers, savings account numbers, checks, ATM cards, or debit cards are lost or stolen, contact the bank immediately and close the account(s). Open new password protected account(s).
If military ID cards are missing, notify the personnel support detachment (PSD) and your immediate chain of command up to the commanding officer. Apply for a new ID card. In the event that a dependant’s ID card is involved, notify your immediate supervisor, the PSD, and secure a replacement.
If your green card or immigration papers are missing, contact the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), as well as your country’s embassy.
In the case of a lost or stolen passport, it is important to notify the U.S. Department of State immediately and fill out Form DS-64. In the event the passport was issued by another country, notify the issuing country’s embassy.
When you’ve contacted the agencies listed above, address the following:
• Health insurance: Notify the medical insurance carrier and request a replacement policy number.
• Auto insurance: Notify the insurance company and request a replacement policy number.
• Library cards: Contact the issuing agency. Ask for that account to be closed and another opened with a replacement number. You may also want to add a password to the new account.
• All other cards with a membership or identification number printed on the card (SSN or another number): Contact the issuing company, school, or employer. Notify them of the loss and request a replacement card with a new account number. In the event that the SSN was the membership number, request that an alternate number be used or that a letter be added to the membership number. This will help to separate your usage from that of the thief.
• Birth certificate: Notify the issuing county recorder’s office of the loss.
• Discount or annual passes: Notify the issuing business and see if they have a replacement policy.
• Supermarket club cards not used for check cashing: Do not worry about these.
• If your Social Security Card was lost or stolen, wait until the the following June when tax season is over and contact the Social Security Administration and ask for a copy your Personal Earnings and Benefits Estimate Statement. To report Social Security fraud, call (800) 269 0271 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Refer also to the Social Security Administration’s website.