Identity Theft

What To Do When You Lose Your Wallet

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Here’s how it works.

Man holding empty wallet (Caption: What To Do When You Lose Your Wallet)Wallets hold a lot of information about who we are. If they get into the wrong hands, it can cause serious problems. It’s also a lot of work to get your life straight when your personal and financial information is at risk. If you happen to end up in a situation where your wallet has gone missing, you need to know what to do to deal with its contents and to protect your identity.

Article Overview

Having identity theft protection is essential for many reasons, but it’s especially useful when you lose your wallet. These services will keep track of any unusual spending or imposter attempts. Some services also offer Lost Wallet Assistance, which helps you get new ID cards and even reimburses you for your recovery effort expenses, including ID fees and the cost of a new wallet. Just make sure you hang on to those receipts and submit them like you would an insurance claim. When a member of our team’s wallet was stolen, she found this LifeLock reimbursement feature helpful.

What Should I Do If I Lose My Wallet?

It’s essential to have a lost wallet checklist of things you need to do when you lose your wallet. You don’t want to forget anything, as each step of this process is vital to protect your identity. Here are 5 things on our list to get you started.

1) Make A List Of Your Wallet’s Contents

Hopefully, you already have a list but, if not, sit down and think about all the things you keep in your wallet and make a list. That way, you can check them off as you go about reporting the loss and replacing cards, etc.

2) Cancel Your Cards

Cancel bank cards and credit cards ASAP. These cards are most likely to be used immediately, so you want to cut them off quickly. Next up, report and replace driver’s licenses, social security cards, and health insurance cards.

3) File A Police Report

Filing a police report isn’t likely to get your wallet back, but it’s crucial to protect your identity. If someone steals your identity, you’ll need this report to be eligible to file a claim with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC provides victims of identity theft the opportunity to fill out an affidavit that you can use to report identity theft information to creditors and lenders. This affidavit is your best chance of getting credit or a loan if you have a poor credit score due to identity theft. But, it all starts with a police report.

4) Issue A Fraud Report

Man with empty wallet: Do RFID Wallets Work? Blocking 21st Century PickpocketingYou need to set up a fraud alert with one of the three national credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. They’ll place a 90-day alert on your credit report, so lenders and creditors have to take extra steps to verify your identity when issuing credit or loans. When you contact one of the national credit bureaus, they’re required to contact the other two, so they can issue an alert on all three reports.

5) Get A New Wallet

You’re going to need a new wallet, so get one that’ll protect your personal information. We review several RFID wallets to help you make the best choice for your needs.

What Should I Do If I Lose My Wallet On Vacation?

If you’re on vacation and your wallet goes missing, don’t waste any time. File a police report and alert your bank and credit card companies immediately. You’ll need a police report to fly domestically without an ID, and it’ll also help you at the embassy if you lost your passport while traveling out of the country. Your bank or credit card company may be able to issue you a cash advance, but this might be costly. It may be best to contact family or friends to send money to get you through your trip.

What To Do If My Wallet Is Stolen?

Man standing with empty pocketsIf someone steals your wallet, it’s essential to report it as soon as possible. Doing this will help create evidence if someone steals your identity in the future and prove you were a victim of a crime that put you at risk. You may also need a police report number to give to your bank or credit card company when they’re investigating any fraud on your accounts.

Here’s a list of information you should be ready to give to the police when you report your stolen wallet:

  • Description of what your wallet looks like
  • List of items in the wallet including cards, IDs, and cash
  • Information regarding where, when, and how your wallet went missing
  • Credit/debit card numbers
  • Information about any fraudulent charges on any of your cards

How Do I Get New Cards?

You’re going to need to replace all of the cards you’ve lost. Here are some tips to help you with the following:

Debit Card

Call your bank immediately to cancel your debit card and order a replacement. Some banks also offer you the opportunity to take care of this by logging onto their website. The longer you wait to alert the bank, the more likely you’ll be responsible for fraudulent charges made with your card. The bank offers the most protection when you contact them within 48 hours of a lost or stolen card. Be sure to inform them about your checkbook if that was also in your wallet.

Credit Card

Citi Prestige cardCall your credit card company to cancel your cards right away. You won’t be responsible for fraudulent purchases as long as you report it stolen before someone else starts using it. Once you report it, you’ll only have to pay $50 of the purchases made by a thief.

Social Security Card

You should never carry your social security card in your wallet, but if you did and now it’s gone, you’ll need to request a new one. Contact the social security administration to make the request. You’ll have to pay a fee, but it’s less than $10. If you’re a victim of identity theft and someone’s fraudulently using your social security number, you can request a new number. However, they don’t always approve it, and you’ll need a police report to verify your need.

Drivers License/ ID Card

The process of getting a new driver’s license or government-issued ID varies from state to state. Some allow you to request one online, and some ask that you come into the DMV office. You’ll likely have to pay a fee, but they may waive the cost if you can prove you’re a victim of theft.

Health Insurance Card

You probably had your health insurance card in your wallet, so don’t forget about replacing it. Call your insurance company, let them know it’s gone, and they’ll send you a replacement. Don’t forget about your flex spending card either. Check with your company’s HR department to make sure you know how to get it replaced.

3 Ways To Prepare In Case I Lose My Wallet

These are good tips to take in general, but especially anytime you’re taking your wallet with you and there is a higher risk of loss or theft (travel for example).

1. Get Your Wallet Down To Basics

Tile SlimThe more stuff you carry in your wallet, the more stuff you’re at risk of losing. Think about what you need, and only carry the essentials.

2. Keep A Copy Of Your Wallet’s Contents

You should have a photocopy of everything you keep in your wallet and store it safely. If you lose your wallet, you’ll know what’s missing and have all the numbers you’ll need to contact providers for replacement.

3. Keep A Locator In Your Wallet

Using a wallet locator or key finder, like the Tile Slim or Inway Card, can help you keep track of your wallet and even help others help you find it.

If I Find Someone Else’s Wallet, What Should I Do?

If you find a lost wallet, there’s an opportunity for you to be a good samaritan and attempt to return it. However, there are a few things to consider.


  • Turn it in at the front desk if you find it at a store or business.
  • Call the police non-emergency number and have them come and get it.
  • Drop it in a USPS blue mailbox, and they will return it to the owner.
  • If you see that the ID address is nearby, you can knock on the door to return it or place it in their mailbox.

Do Not

  • Post about it on social media — you could compromise the wallet owner’s identity.
  • Meet up with someone you don’t know in a place you aren’t familiar with to return the wallet.
  • Try to protect the wallet if someone else claims it, even if you know it’s not theirs. People can be aggressive, and you could get hurt. If someone says that the wallet belongs to them, just let it go and walk away.

Every situation is different so use your judgment. But remember, even though you’re honest, that doesn’t mean the owner of the wallet is honest. Consider the need to protect yourself if they try to accuse you of taking their cash or, worse, identity theft.

Would I Do The Right Thing?

This three-minute video from CBS Sacramento shows an uplifting story of a teen who did the right thing when he came across a lost wallet while handing out flyers for work.

Protect Your Wallet And Your Identity

Dealing with your lost or stolen wallet is important to protect your identity. But you also have to keep in mind that thieves are tricky these days. There’s technology available that allows people to read the cards in your wallet without even touching it. You may want to consider an RFID wallet to protect your wallet at all times.

And if you aren’t certain that you’re safeguarding your identity in every possible way, check out our comprehensive guide to protecting your identity to ensure you’re doing everything you can.

Julie Fritz

Julie has been writing professionally since 2012. She is an active volunteer for a local arm of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country. Everytown does comprehensive research on gun violence and makes recommendations on how we can all make our communities safer. Her involvement with this organization has given her invaluable information about how to keep our kids safe. She enjoys writing not only about gun safety, but from family-related content to informative articles about technology, events and healthcare. In her free time, you might find her hiking, trail running, biking or swimming. You might also find her in the kitchen where she loves to cook and bake.

Related Articles

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Back to top button
Send this to a friend