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whats in your wallet?

What’s In Your Wallet?

You reach for your wallet or purse and find nothing. Gone! Your mind races to that last time you remember having it. You’re frantic as you think of what might be in it: credit cards, debit card, ATM card, cash, Social Security card, driver’s license. Your first response is to feel slightly nauseous, followed by shrieking, “What will I do?”

Sound too far-fetched? Not at all. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission estimates that about 10 million Americans will have their identities stolen in 2007. Identity thieves live to get their hands on what’s in your wallet. They use that information to assume your identity to commit fraud and other crimes.

Do this NOW: And I mean the moment you finish reading this column. Take everything out of your wallet and lay all of the cards and documents on the screen of a photocopy machine. Snap a copy. Now turn every item over and snap another copy of the back sides. Date these copies and keep them in a safe place. Now you have a current inventory, plus all the account numbers and phone numbers for the contents of your wallet.

Hopefully you will never lose your wallet, but if you do, here are the steps to follow immediately:

Step 1. Using the information on your inventory, cancel your debit card immediately. It is at the most risk, as anyone can go online and use your debit card if it has a MasterCard or Visa logo—without your PIN. If you do not report this within two days you can be liable for up to $500. Next, cancel your ATM card and finally your credit cards. Make sure you watch your statements carefully to identify and report unauthorized charges.

Step 2. Contact one of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax 800 525 6285; Experian 888 397 3742; TransUnion 800 372-8391. Each agency is bound by law to report your loss to the other two. A fraud alert will be placed on all three reports and tells creditors to follow certain procedures before opening any new accounts.

Step 3. File a police report. This is very important if your identity is indeed stolen. A copy of the report will make it easier to prove that future credit-card charges are not your own so you cannot be held liable. Contact your local police department and they can advise you on how to proceed. You may also need to contact your homeowners’ insurance company to see if your policy covers you for the costs involved with identity fraud.

Step 4. Provide details to the Federal Trade Commission. Go to Consumer.gov/idtheft to fill out the ID Theft Affidavit. You can make copies of it and send it to creditors in the event that unauthorized credit lines are opened.

Something else you can do now to reduce the burden should you lose your wallet or purse—pare down. Minimize. Carry just what you need from day to day and put the rest in a safe place. Re-inventory and re-photocopy. You want to make sure you always have a true account in a safe place of exactly what’s in your wallet.

©Copyright 2007 Mary Hunt
Everyday Cheapskate is a Registered Trademark

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Comments (3)

Just dont keep the copy in your wallet! =)

Terri:

Thanks, I have all my CC listed w/info already, but did not realize all the other things I would need to do...I am passing this on to all my friends.

Carol Kubaska:

This is the best info. to have. Thank you so much for posting.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 17, 2007 11:09 AM.

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