Lost Wallet Risks: Guard Your Credit on the Go

august 09, 2021 | member benefits
Guard Your Credit On the Go

Talk about a nightmare. You had your wallet just a minute ago, but now it's gone. Vanished. There's almost nothing as scary as losing or misplacing your wallet—be it tangible or digital. Visions of drained bank accounts are common. Panic is often the first and perhaps only response.

Breathe easier by employing a few proactive measures before you're hit by a loss or misplace your financial details. After a loss, you need to contact all your lenders and freeze those accounts. Here's where a lost wallet service is worth its weight in gold. What's vital is fast action, and lost wallet services prove invaluable under pressure.

Physical wallets generally include a driver's license or state ID card, a health insurance card or two, blank checks with your checking account data (remember those?), loyalty cards and possibly your Social Security card. That phone's digital wallet loads purchase cards for quick use. In both cases, they represent your total buying power and losing that generates lots of anxiety.

Scan those vital cards and encrypt that document for storage at home if you want, but you don't need total recall of all those 16-digit numbers if you've set up IDShield's Lost Wallet feature. Our employees cannot access your account digits, but we know the exact steps to take both before the loss and afterward. So, sign up before you lose everything and must scramble for a To-Do-Now list.

It's hard to track statistics on the number of wallets lost in an average year, but some estimates suggest it's more than 1 million in the U.S. alone. So don't waste much time hoping for your wallet's return; recovery is not a reliable bet. It’s action time.

What is Lost Wallet Service?

Lost Wallet assistance relies on a cache of credit card data along with that sensitive driver's license number, your health insurance plan details, debit card digits and more. All you need to do is upload the data. IDShield uses the details to monitor all your bank data—credit and debit cards, checking and savings accounts, as well as other investment data unique to each member.

If you do the work ahead of an unfortunate event, IDShield teams can give you the details you need to cancel cards immediately—including the number for each lender's lost card hotline. Then, all you need to do is authenticate your identity using other personally identifiable information (PII). We can set up a three-way call between IDS, the lender and you if desired.

Suppose financial details reside on your missing smartphone. In that situation, IDS guidance is available to reach the card issuers' report lines and locate your phone remotely—if you've enabled that function. We'll also walk you through how to erase that phone remotely if you desire.

Other actions members should take are discussed when you call for assistance. We're available 24/7 to walk you through everything. Those measures include place fraud alerts on member credit reports, potential credit freezes, etc. A quick chat about the items lost with that wallet will guide you on what to carry in the future, too.

At IDShield, we monitor your Social Security Number but strongly advise against carrying that card around with you. Showing your SSN card is rarely required unless you apply for a new job, and it is replaceable if lost, but why would you hand a thief the #1 key to your identity? Leave that doc in a secure place.

Is it Safe To Pick Up a Stray Wallet or Purse?

Finders Keepers is not a legal doctrine or a great defense if you pick up a lost item in the street, but state laws vary on how to treat such "finds." Also, ownership of the found property generally depends on where it's spotted.

In some states, the person who finds the goods must attempt to locate its owner. So treat yourself to the joy that comes from reuniting a person and their property. It will lift your day as well as the owner.

For you readers under 21, it's not wise to carry around a fake ID either. That's doubly true if the finder turns a physical billfold over to the police and they inventory its contents.

No Panic Required

Most folks view such a loss as equivalent to losing all their money—a terrifying thought. But these fears may be unfounded—at least in part.

A web of corporate policies and federal laws like the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) drastically limit your total losses. FCBA limits out-of-pocket costs to $50 if you report the theft promptly. Mastercard, VISA and many other creditors have lowered that figure to $0 for many cards. You must file a prompt and accurate theft report, but that's all.

With debit cards, the potential losses are somewhat higher. This is because they're covered by the EFTA or Electronic Funds Transaction Act. With these devices, banks expect you to report the crime rapidly too. That gives lenders a chance to limit losses—most of which will be theirs to absorb.

Cash and pre-paid debit cards are the two items hard to replace. Some home insurance policies cover such thefts, but your out-of-pocket expenses will include a deductible.

Remaining Challenges

While your final losses will be limited, some significant challenges remain if you cannot use credit or debit cards while you wait for replacements. Friends and family may pitch in, but there is a better way to prepare for a loss. Create a cash stash at home or, better yet, keep a credit card at home for emergencies only.

Keep a second credit card, if possible, that's covers all your autopay accounts. That way, if your wallet's compromised, you won't have the added task of updating all your automatic payments like the mortgage, utilities or annual renewal fees for memberships and subscriptions.

Finally, consider leaving a business card or email address inside your wallet. Information boosts the odds that an honest finder can locate you and return the goods. As with identity theft, recovering from a lost wallet can eat up many hours of your day, but minutes spent preparing can whittle the task down considerably.

IDShield is a product of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. d/b/a LegalShield (“LegalShield”). LegalShield provides access to identity theft protection and restoration services. For complete terms, coverage, and conditions, please see an identity theft plan. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. This is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations.

Learn more about lost wallet and other identity theft protection