At some point in life we have all misplaced our wallet, only to find it hidden in the pants worn yesterday or that other purse you had been carrying. What if you never found it? Or, what if you were one of the unfortunate individuals that have truly had your wallet stolen? Now what?
Given the high level of fraud and identity thefts, it is important that you act quickly when you have misplaced your wallet. Most experts say you should take action within 24 hours, even if you think your wallet will turn up. The Indiana Bankers Association has identified the following key steps to take in the event your wallet has been stolen or misplaced.
The first step is precautionary: scan everything in your wallet. Keep these scans in a safe, secure place or digitally stored on your computer that is password protected. If you travel, it might be prudent to store this information on your phone using one of the many “Lost Wallet” applications. Again, make sure your phone and application are password protected.
Your next step is to contact the local police to file a police report. Do not call “911” to reach the police, this is not an emergency. Instead, look up the central dispatch number in the local phone book and they can direct you where to go. The police will give you a report number, which is important if you become a victim of identity theft. The police report may also be necessary to obtain a new driver’s license.
With the police report in hand, contact your bank. If you have a debit card, report it as stolen and have the bank issue a new card with a new PIN (personal identification number). Unlike credit cards, debit card providers may leave you responsible for unreported losses and fraudulent charges. The unexpected charges to your account may leave you overdrawn, resulting in overdraft fees that you now have to pay. For additional protection, your bank can notify the major check verification companies to keep stores from accepting checks from your account.
Next, contact your credit card companies and report your cards lost or stolen. You may be instructed to “cancel” your card(s), but that step could complicate your credit score. A cancelled credit card is viewed negatively in calculating credit scores. If you have private label cards, like for department stores or gas stations, you need to act quickly. These credit issuers usually do not have the level of security that the major players like Visa, Master Card or American Express have to protect you from unusual charges. Most major credit card issuers will also provide you with some sort of credit alert when your card has been stolen or compromised. So if you or anyone attempts to open new credit in your name, the security alarms go off until you can provide positive identification. Often there is a cost for this service. Be sure to ask.
You can also go directly to the major credit bureaus and ask for a fraud alert to be placed on your credit report. The big three are Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. You only need to contact one agency and they are required to share the information with the other bureaus. A couple of months after reporting the loss of your cards, you can get a copy of your credit report to check for fraudulent activities by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp.
If you are a First Savings Customer, ask our staff about our different products that provide fraud protection and insurance to cover you in the event of identity theft. Our debit cards have a security feature that alerts our customers when there have been any unusual transactions on their card. This feature is active even if your debit card has not been lost or stolen. If you have lost your debit card or had your wallet stolen, contact us immediately at 877-418-2669. Our Customer Service Representatives will help you through this process of blocking your accounts and returning your life back to normal.
Larry W. Myers
President & Chief Executive Officer
First Savings Bank