My brother-in-law had his wallet stolen over the weekend. In the interest of learning from the misfortunes of others, here are some things to think about.
- Never, never, never carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
- Photocopy your wallet about once a year. Lay the contents out on a copier (front and back) so you have a record of all the cards and contact numbers.
- Only carry the cards that you use on a regular basis. Leave the rest in a safe place at home. If you have bills set up to auto-pay by credit card, use a card that you leave home. Otherwise, you'll have to change all those accounts when the card is cancelled.
- When your wallet is lost or stolen, immediately call the financial institutions and start canceling the cards that were lost.
- Call the three credit reporting agencies and put a fraud alert on your account. Consider putting a credit freeze on your account. (A fraud alert is free but must be renewed in 90 days. A credit freeze will typically cost $10 and requires extra effort to have lifted when you want to apply for credit legitimately but it provides somewhat better protection.)
- If you haven't reviewed your credit report lately, do it now. Follow the instructions at annualcreditreport.com.
Police advise men to keep the wallet in their front trouser pocket, not a jacket pocket and definitely not a rear pocket. Police advise women to keep their purse with them and to carry it on their strong-hand side (if you're right-handed, carry it on your right shoulder).
If you're traveling, keep your identity document (passport or drivers license) separate from your wallet. Carry a photocopy of the first two pages of your passport in a third pocket whenever traveling abroad.