What to do When Your Wallet Goes Missing

If you lose your wallet, keep calm and start making phone calls. Tracey Markovich shares eight steps to follow, plus two ways to reduce the stress before you ever lose anything.

If you’ve never lost your wallet – or worse, had it stolen – then count yourself lucky. Discovering that your wallet or purse has gone missing can spark panic among even the calmest people. After all, your wallet likely holds a treasure trove of cash, debit cards, credit cards, personal identification, health insurance cards and more than a few loyalty cards.

“When we see customers who have lost their wallets or purses, it’s easy to understand their concern. They don’t know who has access to their personal information and potentially their money,” says Tracey Markovich, a branch manager at PNC Bank.

It can be hard to pause and focus on what steps to take to protect yourself when you feel as if you’ve just lost everything you need.


wallet lying on ground

If you’ve lost your wallet, take the following steps, keeping a list of dates and names of individuals with whom you have spoken:

  1. Determine where, what and when – Identify approximately where and when you lost your wallet. Start a list of everything that was in it so you know what companies or agencies you need to contact.
  2. File a police report – As soon as you know your wallet is officially lost and not just hiding in a couch cushion, call the police to establish a record of your loss, which could come in handy if you become a victim of fraudulent purchases.
  3. Contact your bank – Call your bank as soon as possible to cancel your debit and/or credit card and get a new one. Many PNC branches can print a new debit card for you on the spot so you don’t have to go without access to money. If your checkbook was in your wallet, make sure to let your bank know.
  4. Call other credit card issuers – Ask to cancel your cards and have new ones sent right away. You may need to verify a few recent transactions so the issuer can assess whether your card was used after you lost it.
  5. Notify your insurance companies – Most people carry their auto insurance and medical insurance cards, but often forget to notify the companies of a lost card. Notifying the insurance companies right away can help protect you if someone tries to file a claim or use your benefits.
  6. Cancel rewards accounts – If you rack up rewards points, make sure to cancel or transfer your accounts to prevent your hard-earned rewards from disappearing, like your wallet.
  7. Set up fraud alerts – Contact the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) to have a fraud alert established on your file. This means that if anyone applies for credit in your name in the next 90 days, the creditors will contact you to verify your identify before granting any new credit applications.
  8. Check your keys – If you had an extra house key in your wallet, be sure to change your locks. Even if your wallet turns up somewhere, someone could have made a copy of your key – and if your driver’s license or other personal identification was in your wallet, they know where you live.

Once you’ve replaced what you can, it’s time to prepare in case you lose your wallet again. Clean it out periodically and replace only what you absolutely need to carry on a daily basis. Then, make a list of everything you carry, along with phone numbers for each company, and keep the list in a safe place. That way, if you lose your wallet again, you know whom to call. 

Tracey Markovich

Tracey Markovich says it’s important to quickly notify your bank and credit card companies if you lose your wallet.

Lost vs. Stolen

Whether your wallet was lost or stolen, you still want to follow the same steps listed here. Remember, a lost wallet could always be found by a less-than-honest passerby.

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