Losing your wallet is one of the most stressful situations that can happen to you as it holds keys to both your finances and your identity. Most people keep their debit card, multiple credit cards, and government-issued identification in their wallet; these are a veritable treasure trove of information for fraudsters and identity thieves. How can you protect yourself if your wallet goes missing?
Recently I lost my wallet, on my birthday no less. As the feeling of panic started to rise I ran through every possible scenario as to where it could be. I retraced my steps to see if I could find it, but to no avail my wallet was lost to the endless pile of missing items and never to be found again. Luckily for me, I knew what needed to be done to protect my money and identity.
My family has owned a collection agency in Saint John for 34 years and both of my parents have worked in the industry for four decades, I was prepared for this. The first thing I did was get ahold of my credit card companies to cancel my cards to prevent them from being used, even with PIN number protection the tap feature can still be used for purchases up to $100 in some cases. With my credit card companies now informed and monitoring my accounts for fraudulent activity I made my way to Service New Brunswick to get my identifications replaced. I spent about an hour filling out forms to get my Medicare card, drivers’ license, and birth certificate replaced, but I wasn’t finished yet.
The last step I took was to contact Equifax and Trans Union to inform them. These are the two major credit reporting companies in Canada and the best defense against identity theft is to get ahold of them. For a nominal fee, these companies will monitor your credit file and have any creditor contact you whenever someone is trying to get credit in your name. This is a critical step as a lost wallet is essentially you for all intents and purposes, anyone who finds it can use the government identification and credit cards to fraudulently get credit in your name.
A lost wallet can cause all kinds of headaches and anxiety when you factor in the potential for fraud and identity theft it can be a nightmare. There are fail-safes set in place by financial companies and government agencies, but it is up to you to contact their fraud detection units to keep them informed. Make sure you contact your credit card companies to cancel your credit cards and contact credit reporting agencies as soon as you realize your wallet is gone for good to protect yourself from fraudulent charges. Sure you’ll spend some time on hold and standing in lines, but that’s a lot better than letting someone fraudulently ruin your personal finances and good name.