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10 Things to Do When You Lose Your Wallet

Greg Sandler • June 20, 2024

A man searching through his wallet to make sure he hasn't lost anything.

Anxiety can set in when you realize your wallet is gone. Whether it slipped out of your bag, was left on a counter, or was taken, the loss can feel devastating. At times like this, it’s good know what to do when you lose your wallet.

If you’re in a “wallet-stolen-what-to-do panic,” take a deep breath and think about how to find a lost wallet. If you don’t find your wallet, you’re not alone. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Americans¹ have experienced a lost or stolen wallet. In this situation, you should hope for the best and plan for the worst. Here are 10 steps you can take to minimize the potential damage from a missing wallet.

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1. Make a list of what was in the lost wallet

Creating a detailed list of what was in your wallet, from credit cards to driver’s licenses, will help you identify potential risks and take the steps needed to address them.² The list can also be useful when reporting the loss to your financial institutions and can help law enforcement track any unauthorized account activity.

2. Lock your cards to prevent unauthorized use

One of the most important steps you can take after losing your wallet is to lock your debit and credit cards. Locking your cards is crucial because it stops bad actors from making purchases on your accounts.

Blocking transactions stops criminals from using your lost or stolen debit and credit cards. It also safeguards your finances by preventing unauthorized transactions and gives you time to sort out your loss without the added stress of potential financial damage.

You can often freeze your accounts via your financial institution’s mobile app or website, and activating these locks is typically instant. When in doubt, call your bank to secure your accounts. Here’s how to block transactions on your Chime cards.

3. Request new debit and credit cards

Once your cards are secure, you should request replacements. Here’s how to request replacement cards from Chime.

Not having your cards can be inconvenient, especially if you rely on them for daily transactions. Contact your bank or card issuer to issue new cards; most institutions can provide replacements quickly, often with expedited shipping options.

It’s also wise to ask if there are any fees associated with the replacement process, as this varies by bank and card type.

4. Update your account passwords

After securing your cards, updating the passwords for your banking and other financial accounts adds a layer of security.

This measure is critical because it prevents someone who may have obtained personal information from your wallet from accessing your accounts.

Consider using a password manager to generate and store complex passwords. Strong, unique passwords can better protect your financial information, especially after a security breach. This simple step can help prevent identity theft.

5. Monitor your accounts for suspicious activity

The next action step is to begin monitoring your accounts for suspicious activity. Even if you’ve blocked transactions, monitoring your accounts after losing your wallet will help you catch any unauthorized activity. Check your statements and recent transaction history regularly for signs of fraud.

Many institutions, including Chime, enable activity alerts that notify you of account transactions. These account monitoring tools can help identify and expose potential fraud to stop fraudsters in their tracks.

6. Activate fraud alerts on your credit reports

Setting up a fraud alert on your credit reports with the major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – makes it harder for identity thieves to open accounts in your name. Creditors will take extra steps to verify your identity before opening new accounts once a fraud alert exists on your account.

7. Review and update any auto-pay services linked to the lost cards

If your lost debit or credit cards were set up for auto-pay services – like utility bills or subscriptions – update these settings early on.³ Failing to do so can lead to missed payments and service disruptions.

Contact each service provider to update your payment information when your new cards arrive. This proactive step ensures that all your bills and subscriptions are uninterrupted and helps avoid late fees or penalties.

8. Enroll in identity theft protection services

Enrolling in identity theft protection can provide an extra layer of security after the loss of your wallet. These services monitor your credit and alert you to any potential fraud to provide greater peace of mind.

9. Report the loss to the police

If you believe your wallet was stolen, you may want to file a police report. This provides an official record of the incident and can be helpful if you need to provide evidence of the theft to your bank or credit agency.

Contacting law enforcement and credit agencies about a lost or stolen wallet is an important step in reporting fraud and scams.

10. Apply for a new driver’s license

Replace your driver’s license in the first few days after losing your wallet, since this is likely your primary identification. Visit your local DMV as soon as possible to order a replacement.

Protect your driver’s license and personal information from scammers – most common scams involve trying to capture your personal information.

Solutions for paying when you lose your wallet

Even without your physical cards, there are ways to continue making payments. Many institutions offer virtual cards through their apps, and services like Apple Pay or Google Pay can be linked to your account for contactless payments. If you have a debit card with Chime, you can access a permanent virtual card in the Chime app.

Losing your wallet doesn’t have to be a disaster. Start by making a plan for what to do when you lose your wallet. By locking your cards, updating passwords, and monitoring your accounts, you can protect yourself from significant financial harm.

For more insights into keeping your financial information safe, find out how to avoid credit card skimmers.

Safety and security through Chime

  • Two-factor & fingerprint authentication
  • Enable instant transaction alerts
  • Freeze your card if lost or stolen
Get Started

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Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Bancorp Bank, N.A. and Stride Bank, N.A. (“Banks”). Banks are not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

¹ Information from Chipolo, “Lost Your Wallet? Here's What You Need To Do,” as of May 13, 2024: https://chipolo.net/en-us/blogs/lost-your-wallet-heres-what-you-need-to-do

² Information from Nasdaq, “Lost Your Wallet? Take These 7 Steps Now,” as of May 13, 2024: https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/lost-your-wallet-take-these-7-steps-now

³ Information from Forbes, “What To Do When You Lose Your Credit Card,” as of May 13, 2024: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/credit-cards/what-to-do-when-you-lose-your-credit card/

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