This past weekend, one of the most terrifying things in modern life happened: I couldn’t find my wallet. Losing a phone would certainly be expensive (but a perfect excuse to make that upgrade!), losing your keys would be a hassle, but could be remedied in an afternoon – but losing your wallet? A headache that could literally take weeks to recover from.
First and foremost your credit and debit cards need to be canceled. And even with overnight shipping you, it could be a day or two before you have access to cash or purchasing power again. That’s a frightening scenario, especially if you don’t have any other credit cards or a cash reserve laying around your place. Perhaps the most annoying thing would be replacing your driver’s license, which would not only require schlepping to the DMV, but also any wait that exists between you requesting the new license and getting the final card in the mail. That would put quite a damper on any drinks with buds or dates at bars for a few weeks, since the temporary license isn’t valid photo ID.
I had spent the night before out with some friends, bouncing around to a few places and I just couldn’t pinpoint the last time I had it. Trying to stay calm, the panic fluttered in the back of my mind. Not in my pants pockets. Not on the floor of my closet. Not on any desks or counters. Luckily, I eventually found it lodged between the seats in my car, but not before I had an important realization: I hadn’t photocopied the contents of my wallet in several years.
Not only is losing your wallet a pain, it’s a serious threat to your identity security. Take for instance, a study of victims of identity theft who knew how their information was taken, 43% reported it was from a lost purse or wallet, while only 11% blamed an online transaction. Further bad news: Another study found that only 1 in 5 lost wallets were attempted to be returned.
Stop what you’re doing and make photocopies of all the cards in your wallet, front and back and file it with your other important documents. This information can be pivotal in the event your wallet is lost or stolen: You’ll immediately have access to all account numbers and the customer service phone numbers to cancel credit cards, but also other important information like health insurance ID numbers and contacts, auto club information, driver’s license number, and much more. It’ll also give you an exact register of everything that needs cancelled and replaced.
Beyond this, consider stashing one of your credit cards in a drawer so that you’ll always have access to credit should your wallet go missing. Perhaps even more important: Take out some cash and stow it away with that credit card. Start with $100, but think about more if you can manage it. That’ll keep you fed, provide some gas, and other life expenditures in the days it takes to replace cards.
And finally, if you want to improve the chances your lost wallet is returned consider this: A study found a wallet was 88% more likely to be returned if there was a photo of a baby inside, 53% with a photo of puppy, 48% with family, and 28% of an old couple. Wallets with no photos were only returned 15% of the time.