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Lost or Stolen Wallet? No Problem!

Your Easy Step-by-Step Peace of Mind to Identity Theft Recovery & Avoidance

or centuries wallets were just simple carrying cases for trivial knick-knacks but as society evolved so had its purpose. Now, the advent of vehicles, largescale metro cities, and suburban mega malls are making it easier for our senses to be flooded with every imaginable want and need located at very short distances. Because of these growing conveniences there is increasing demand that we carry more of our personals; so it is no surprise that most people take every imaginable identification (drivers license, club cards, and business cards), credit cards, photographs, cash and checks/cheques, receipts, contact slips, and more when they head out the door. Do we really need to carry so much? In most cases the answer is no! But with a plethora of activity one can do in a given day its just easier to have everything with you in the off chance you may need it even if you dont plan to use it. In other words, better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. This mentality, although incredibly convenient, leaves us even more dangerously exposed to identity and valuables theft. For most, losing ones wallet by way of having it stolen or through negligence is a devastatingly debilitating experience that has left many emotionally and physically scarred. Its only when this happens that we begin to regret having so much in our wallet. If you are reading this publication after recently losing your wallet then rest assured this isnt going to lecture you about the mistakes you made and point fingers. That is not helpful. The purpose of this writing is to walk you through the necessary steps to get you back on your feet in the quickest possible way, and to hopefully 1|Page

provide you useful pointers on how to reduce the chances of it occurring again. First and foremost you must come to terms emotionally that your wallet is more than likely never going to be recovered. This doesnt necessarily mean that you wont see it again but you must accept the possibility that it is gone for good so that you can take action swiftly. Many people tend to hold onto hope way too long and dont follow through with the necessary steps to protect their identity in time. Taking action too late can cost you more than the paper currency you had in your wallet. For the remainder of this publication when I say lost wallet I am referring specifically to a wallet that was either lost through error or by theft.

The Signs
When you lose your wallet the real problems can take days, weeks, or even months to reveal themselves so dont think because you havent seen unusual activity within the first 24 hours that youve miraculously dodged the proverbial bullet. Here are some long-term red flags to look out for as possible indicators that your identity may have been compromised: 1. You start receiving unexpected calls from creditors demanding payment for goods you never purchased. 2. Despite having a respectable credit history you start receiving rejection notices when applying for credit. 3. Unexplainable credit card transactions posted to one or more of your accounts.

4. Bills stop arriving. This could be an indication that a thief has changed your address on accounts in order to conceal their activities.

only recommended in cases where you have a strong belief that you simply misplaced the card(s) and it wasnt in fact stolen. Reporting a card stolen with the bank/retailer will leave you without a credit card for several weeks. Important Contacts You Should Know

The Steps
Taking prompt and decisive action is your only course for protection. In priority order, here is your no nonsense step-by-step list on reclaiming your personal peace-of-mind: 1. Credit Cards (incl. Retail-branded) Cards Excluding cash, credit and retail cards offered out en masse by banks and retailers are the quickest way for thieves to cash in on your good name. Although most of these types of cards now come equipped with a chip (requiring a PIN # to be used) it should never be overlooked that most retailers still offer you the alternative of signing instead of using a pin. A thief merely need only get a rudimentary understanding of how to imitate your signature (as displayed on the back of most of your cards) in front of a lackluster cashier who never truly scrutinizes for an accurate signature match. And online purchases are a whole other thing. A thief doesnt require a signature or a PIN to make purchases online. However, their purchases can leave a trail and provide clues as to where the thief resides. Your first course of action upon losing your credit cards is to phone your provider. Virtually all credit card companys first phone selection option is to report it lost/stolen. Select this option and you will immediately be put in contact with a representative who will walk you through the process of suspending and reissuing a new credit card in the mail. Although there is a small chance of recovering your credit cards you may opt to only suspend (and later reactivate) your credit cards. In other words, not file an official lost/stolen. This is 2|Page American Express BMO Capital One CIBC Chase Citi Discover MBNA ScotiaBank TD 2. Gift Cards Most large retail chains provide gift cards. Gift cards are a form of in-store cash. Several credit card providers have also jumped into the mix and also offer their own branded gift cards. These types of cards are much harder to recover when lost because by their very design anyone can use them there are no security restrictions. However, if you still have the original receipt its possible you can contact customer service and alert them so they can transfer the balance, invalidate the lost card, and reissue a new one. But you must do so before the card is emptied out by the thief. Although it is tempting to carry gift cards with you all the time it is not recommended. Preferably, consider only carrying a gift card on the day(s) you plan on using them. Important Contacts You Should Know Amazon.com 1.866.216.1072 1.800.668.2639 1.800.361.3361 1.800.481.3239 1.800.465.2422 1.800.945.2000 1.800.950.5114 1.800.347.2683 1.888.876.6262 1.888.823.9657 1.800.983.8472

Best Buy Costco Future Shop Gap K-Mart Pizza Hut Toys R Us Wal-Mart 3. Credit Bureaus

1.888.716.7994 Not Replaceable 1.800.663.2275 1.800.427.7895 1.866.562.7848 1.888.344.6519 1.800.869.7787 1.800.411.7942

Its strongly advised you request a credit report from both agencies to keep an eye on your profile. The process is free and can be done via fax, phone, or online. It probably wouldnt be worth getting the report right away because they are only updated once every 3-months. Important Contacts You Should Know Equifax (Flag Alert) TransUnion (Flag Alert) 4. PIN #s and Passwords 1.800.465.7166 1.888.909.8872

The two major credit profile collecting agencies in North America are Equifax and TransUnion. Credit bureaus serve to help businesses get a better understanding of your credit history (how well you pay back your debts). Your activities are maintained for 5-8 years. The longer an identification thief has access to your details the higher the probability that their malicious activity will have a detrimental effect on your ability to secure further credit and loans. Fortunately, both bureaus have a hotline to report stolen identification affording you the ability to place a fraud alert flag on your profile warning businesses about offering credit without first asking for additional identification and even contacting you directly if the person is claiming to be a family member. Once enabled this flag remains on for 6 years. You can have it removed sooner by submitting a written statement. This feature gives you peace of mind that any thief will have a harder time devaluing your good name. But this flag will require you to jump through a few more hoops with creditors as they confirm your identity. And although they cant legally deny you credit with such a warning in place for those six years it is possible they may view you as a potential risk and find an excuse not to offer you credit/loan. So just be warned about this potential inconvenience.

Never keep any of your passwords (and PINs) in your wallet; always memorize them. It seems obvious but all too often I have seen cases where people will carry little scraps of paper to serve as reminders, revealing many of their private secrets. The problem is over time those scraps are forgotten to exist but still carried. Dont make this mistake even if these passwords and PINs dont reveal which accounts they are associate with never underestimate the persistence of identity thieves. It is of utmost importance that you change each of your PINs and passwords if you did in fact carry such a list in your wallet. Better to be safe than sorry. 5. Filing a Police Report Depending on how much personal information was in your wallet you may elect to file a police report. There isnt much hope in recovering your wallets contents by filing such a report but it does provide you with the necessary paperwork you can use when reporting/recovering your other lost/stolen identification and can help prove your case of theft to credit collectors. This is a common route for those who have lost their SIN (Social Insurance Numbers for Canadians) or SSN (Social Security Numbers for US Citizens) cards.

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Police reports must be performed at your local station and takes about 30mins. It is not necessary for you to book an appointment just walk-in and ask to file a report. 6. SIN/SSN Number Reporting Every Canadian and American has a SIN (Social Insurance Number for Canadians) or SSN (Social Security Number for Americans). An identity thief can do a lot of damage if they know this specific detail about you. This is why you should never ever carry this card with you (memorize it). But if you did happen to lose this card a thief can apply for credit cards and loans in your name. They can also seek out employment and get extended medical benefits with this number. So losing this identification can be the most costly form of theft of them all and potentially the most difficult to detect. These cards are administered by their respective governments. When you lose your card it is of utmost importance to notify them so that they can potentially flag your number and issue out a new number in the process. In most cases they will simply reissue the same number. As a helpful note, if you do not remember your number, you can look to your prior income tax assessments; it is shown on them. Important Contacts You Should Know Service Canada SSA (US Citizens) 1.800.206.7218 1.800.772.1213

Most banks have very strong control measures and so you dont need to worry too much about this but if you know the check #s I recommend you put a stop request on them through your bank as an added precaution. In any case just keep an eye out for unauthorized check use. 8. Debit Cards Also known as ATM or ABM cards, debit cards are issued by banks allowing its customers to make purchases using money directly from their personal bank accounts while at retail establishments. Cash withdrawals are also a common action. One significant benefit of using a debit card over a credit card is that it limits your loss to the daily amount set by the bank (usually $200-$500). It also has the added security of insisting that a personalized PIN # be entered each time, unlike credit cards which only recently adopted PIN security, and still allows for signatures or using the CCV # (located on the back of the card) when making online purchases. However, there are a certain few in the population that like to keep their PIN #s close by. Some will even write their PIN on the back of their debit cards or place it on a sheet of paper and stuffed (and forgotten) in their wallet. If you are one of those types you must learn to let go of that security blanket. With your PIN # any thief can drain you dry. Although there is a daily limit any passionate thief can collect enough information about you and call to have your withdraw limit increased and leave you in an even bigger hole. Important Contacts You Should Know Bank of America Bank of Montreal Chase CIBC Debit 1.800.848.6090 1.877.225.5266 1.800.935.9935 1.800.465.2422

7. Checks/Cheques (Unendorsed) This may not be that much of a concern to many but because your signature does exist on other IDs in your wallet (credit cards, drivers license) it does pose a potential issue in that it makes it easier for thieves to use these checks on your behalf.

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Citigroup PNC Financial ScotiaBank SunTrust Bank TD Canada Trust Wells Fargo

1.800.950.5114 1-888.762.2265 1.800.472.6842 1.800.786.8787 1.866.222.3456 1.800.869.3557

identity thief were to get a hold of your health information they can make use of it for their own benefit. Canada recently adopted photo ids for their health cards which make it one step harder for illegal immigrants to impersonate you. Its highly recommended that you contact your coverage provider and inform them of the loss so they can be on full alert of any new and possibly unusual activity. Important Contacts You Should Know Aetna Blue Shield Highmark Humana Ministry of Health (Canada) United Healthcare WellPoint 11. Birth Certificate Although losing your birth certificate is not directly a problem this form of ID is helpful when applying for (or replacing) a SIN/SSN card. It also serves as additional government proof that you are who you say you are, a citizen of that country. A thief, especially an illegal immigrant, could use your birth certificate as additional proof when procuring more IDs and ultimately taking over your identity completely. There is no point in carrying your birth certificate with you at all. Always keep it locked away at home. You will almost never need it. If it does happen to be one of your lost/stolen IDs it is very important to contact the agency responsible and have it replaced. 12. Passport Although a passport gives one the ability to travel outside their native country it can serve as 1.800.872.3862 1.800.393.6130 1.412.544.7000 1.800.448.6262 1.866.532.3161 1.866.223.5802 1.317.488.6000

9. Drivers License (Insurance/Ownership) This is the most common form of identification that will be lost since it is the most likely to be in a wallet. The primary issue with losing your license (or accompanying insurance/ownership) is that it provides the thief more information about you -- your address, name, who your insurance provider is, etc. They can use this information to help supplant you in other areas. They can also use your address to make an unannounced visit to your home. Most countries dont require you to carry your insurance and ownership with you -- they can be left in your cars glove compartment. You only need to visit your drivers service center to fill out a simple form and they will mail you a duplicate of your drivers license. They will also provide you with a temporary license that you can use as you wait for the replacement to arrive in the mail. Important Contacts You Should Know DMV (for Americans) Drivers Licensing Centre 1.800.952.3696 1.800.387.3445

10. Health Card (and Insurance Information) Americans who opt for health coverage do so usually through their workplace and/or by paying premiums for extended insurance coverage. Canadians, on the other hand, get most of their healthcare through a nationwide universal free coverage. In both cases, if an

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a valuable ID when applying for other forms of identification. Recently passports have adopted more stringent security measures such as holograms to prevent tampering and forgeries. However, it is still fairly easy for a thief to get by these measures. Most people dont carry their passport with them that often and so this type of loss is fairly uncommon. However, if it is lost or stolen its still highly advised to get in contact with the government and let them know and they will reissue a copy. Important Contacts You Should Know Passport Canada U.S. Dept. of State 1-800-567-6868 1-877-487-2778

or even avoid such a predicament in the future, making you into a more savvy individual.

The Author
Emma Li is a personal finance correspondent for several online outlets producing such popular writings as Questrade - An In-Depth Look. Graduating with a degree in social psychology from the University of Waterloo Emma chose to follow her true passion in life by shifting towards providing advice on personal finance and investing. Emma splits her time in Toronto, Ontario and Fremont, California with her husband and two children.

The Final Word


I have covered most of the common IDs that can and does get lost but there are countless other identifications one may be carrying in their wallet. Regardless, the most important advice is to learn to only take with you the most important IDs that you will be using on a day-to-day basis and leave the others at home locked away. For the most part the only IDs you should be carrying are: drivers license (and insurance), health card, debit card(s), credit card(s), and a small quantity of cash. All other forms of ID should only be in your wallet on brief occasions when you actually need them. Its also recommended that you only carry two credit cards and two debit cards at most. The reasoning is simple. One credit/debit card serves as your primary tool for purchases while the other serves as backup. By limiting how many cards you have in your wallet you limit your losses. Losing your wallet is never a fun experience but by taking these precautions and learning from your mistakes you can be better prepared to limit 6|Page