What To Do Right Now Before You Lose Your Wallet

by Hank Coleman

What to do before you lose your wallet.Have you ever lost your wallet? Of course it can be a traumatic event in anyone’s life. I can remember when my wife lost her’s at Walt Disney World of all places. She was lucky and someone had turned it into guest services. I’m probably going to jinx myself when I say this, but I have never lost my wallet…not once.

But, as most people can attest to, it may just be a matter of time. According to a report from CNN, less than 20% of all wallets that are lost are returned to the owner. So forewarned is forearmed.

Here are tips that you can use to make sure that if you lose your wallet it doesn’t completely ruin your financial day or worse end in identity theft.

Steps To Take Right Now Before You Lose Your Wallet

Make A List Of What’s In Your Wallet

What’s in your wallet? Do you even know what is in there? When was the last time you cleaned it out? I’m always surprised to find what is in mine even though I clean it out regularly. Knowing what you have in your wallet and what is missing if you lose your wallet will help give you a starting point to notify banks and other agencies.

Here’s a quick example of some of the random things that are in my wallet right now:

  • Driver’s License
  • Two personal credit cards
  • Two business credit cards
  • ATM Card
  • TWo car insurance cards
  • Concealed Weapons Permit
  • Starbucks Gold Card
  • Four loyalty cards
  • Two coupon punch cards
  • Folded up $100 bill for emergencies

Pair Down Your Wallet’s Contents

Just by going through my wallet every month or two, I clean out some of the crap that accumulates. You should do the same. Are you carrying too many credit cards in your wallet? You should look to leave a few at home. Not only will it help you in case you lose your wallet and have to report the loss to the credit card companies, not carrying cards can help you not to over spend as well.

Copy Front And Back Of Cards

Now that you know what is in your wallet, you need to make copies of all your credit cards, government identification cards, and other important papers. Like having a copy of your passport, having copies of your other important documents will help you in the event you need to replace them after you lose your wallet.

Have Backup Copies

One of the easiest ways to replace the items in your wallet if you lose it is to already have backup copies of your important documents and credit cards. I made the mistake of ordering a second driver’s license a few years ago and have kept that second copy in a safe place that is no where near my wallet just to be safe in case I ever lose my wallet. Many states make it very easy to replace driver’s licenses by just ordering it online. It may not be as easy to have duplicate credit cards since you will have to cancel the lost ones. But, that is another great case for leaving a few of them at home instead of carrying all of your credit cards in your wallet.

Enroll In A Lost Wallet Service

There are several credit card companies that offer help for their cardholders when you lose your wallet. It goes far beyond simply replacing your lost or stolen credit card from the company. With just a single telephone call, a credit card lost wallet replacement service can help notify all of your credit card companies and even request replacement cards on your behalf. American Express’ Lost Wallet Protector program can even help you to replace your passports, keys, mobile devices, warranties, and other items that can be lost when you lose your wallet or other valuables.

Download The Smartphone Apps To Help You

Last Pass Wallet is an easy-to-use, free smartphone app that stores the information that you carry in your actual wallet. The app allows you to backup and sync your most valuable personal information which will help simplify the process of replacing all of your identification cards and credit cards should you lose your wallet.

Smart Tracker Bluetooth Chip For Your Wallet

Wallet TrackR is a tracking device for your wallet. It is small enough to fit inside your wallet like a credit card would normally do. It uses Bluetooth to connect to an app on your smartphone. The app on your smartphone will send you an alert and make noise to alert you if it sees that you are starting to leave your wallet somewhere. I guess the trick here though is to never lose your smartphone and your wallet at the same time.

Protect Your Identity Before You Lose Your Wallet

Like networking for a job, the time for you to protect your identity from being stolen is not when you lose your wallet. You need to take measures to safeguard your identity and personal information long before you lose your wallet. This is why it is so important to limit the amount of personal information that you have in your wallet as much as possible, and never carry your Social Security card with you. I have joined LifeLock to help protect myself from identity theft. I really love the service that LifeLock has already provided. They automatically request your credit reports, disenroll you from the spam mailing lists, enroll you in their proactive identity theft protection, internet monitoring, address monitoring, loss wallet protection, and others. LifeLock also offers a $1 million identity theft guarantee. Get a 30-Day Free Trial + 10% Off Your Purchase of LifeLock ULTIMATE through February 28th, 2013.

Bonus: Add A Photo Of Your Kids

Believe it or not, but scientific research has shown that having photos of young children in your wallet increases your odds of having your lost wallet returned to you. Strangers are more likely to return your valuables after you lose your wallet if the can identify with you and your family, and photos of babies have been shown to be the quickest way to a speedy return of your wallet. It never hurt to keep a photo in there just in case.

Never Keep These Things In Your Wallet

And, of course, there are certain things that you should never carry in your wallet. It has been engrained into us from a young age, but here are a few just as a friendly reminder. You should never keep in your wallet…

  • Your Social Security Card
  • Any pin numbers or bank account numbers
  • Passwords
  • Extra credit cards
  • Other things that you do not specifically need

So, am I the only one who has NEVER lost a wallet? Is my streak in jeoprody now that I’ve come out and admitted my good fortune. Is there anything else that you do to get ready for the inevitable event when you lose your wallet? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and is currently pursuing his Certified Financial Planner credentials. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 528 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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