Lost and Stolen Wallets Lead To Identity Theft

A friend called me in a panic because she had lost her wallet, which contained her driver’s license, credit cards, debit card, store cards, and her Social Security card. (You should never carry your Social Security card or Social Security number in your purse or wallet.)

Anyway, she was freaked out and wanted to know what to do. There are certain things you can do now, before your wallet is lost or stolen, to mitigate future damage, and other things that should be done once a wallet is missing.

While you still have your wallet, thin it out as much as possible. If you have multiple credit cards, store cards, Social Security cards, insurance cards, and more, then, “Houston, we have a problem.” All these ancillary cards serve no purpose other than putting you at risk for new account fraud or account takeover.

Remove unnecessary cards and put them in a safe, or cut them up and cancel the accounts. I have a MasterCard and an American Express, and if everyone took American Express I’d only have one card. I also carry a Costco card, driver’s license, and a debit card to make deposits and get cash. That’s it.

Beyond that, no other card is needed, including insurance cards. Insurance cards only need to be carried the day of an appointment. They are not necessary in emergency situations.

Photocopy all the cards in your wallet (front and back) and keep them in a safe.

When your wallet is lost or stolen, pull out the photocopies of your cards. Call the credit card issuer to report the loss and request new cards.

Easy enough. However, there is one thing I’d recommend you do prior to losing your wallet — invest in an identity theft protection service.

To ensure peace of mind, subscribe to an identity theft protection service, such as McAfee Identity Protection, which offers proactive identity surveillance and lost wallet protection. If your credit or debit cards are ever lost, stolen or misused without your authorization, you can call McAfee Identity Protection and they’ll help you cancel them and order new ones. If their product fails, you’ll be reimbursed for any stolen funds not covered by your bank or credit card company. (For details, see McAfee’s guarantee.) For additional tips, please visit CounterIdentityTheft.com.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss identity theft on YouTube. (Disclosures)

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