preventing identity theft

Preventing ID Theft If Your Purse or Wallet Is Lost or Stolen

The contents of your purse or wallet can be a gold mine to a thief. They provide the number one method used by criminals to steal your identity.1 If you discover that your driver’s license and credit and/or debit cards are missing, there are important steps to take. However, one of the most effective ways to prevent ID theft are some things that you might want to do before your purse or wallet disappear.

 

Keep a record

Scan or photocopy your license and payment cards — both sides — to keep on file. Include any card you normally keep in your purse or wallet such as medical insurance, auto insurance, membership and loyalty cards. Keep copies of all in a safe place at home. If you’re traveling, you might want to bring a second copy with you, but keep it in a place other than your purse or wallet. Include your passport among the items you copy. And remember, you should never carry your Social Security Card or number with you.

With this back up set of records, you’re better prepared to report the loss or theft of your items quickly and accurately.

Report any payment card or personal information loss as soon as possible

Criminals act quickly to try and use stolen cards or information before the theft is reported. Copies of your cards and license will be the key to reporting the loss to the appropriate parties in a timely manner. You can call the toll-free phone numbers on the back of each card to report it lost or stolen and request a new card. Make sure that you document all of your communications as you go through this process.

Also report any losses to one of the three credit reporting agencies (CRAs), and request that they inform the other two CRAs and put a fraud alert on your credit report. This is a free service that lasts for 90 days and can be renewed. A fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open accounts in your name. Phone numbers for the three CRAs are: Equifax 1-800-525-6285; Experian 1-888-397-3742; and TransUnion 1-800-680-7289.

It’s also a good idea to order a new credit report two to three months after a loss.2 This should provide ample time to see whether or not someone has used your identity to open new accounts, for example. Compare the new report to your previous one, looking for accounts that you didn’t open or credit inquiries you don’t recognize.

Responding to this type of loss or theft can be a time-consuming task. However, better preparation can mitigate the impact of the theft. It also gives you a better chance at avoiding damaged credit or dishonest charges due to identity theft.

Under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), your liability for fraudulent credit card charges is no more than $50. If you notify your credit card company when you notice your card is missing, and before your card is used, you are not responsible for any charges you didn’t authorize.3

 

1consumer.ftc.gov

2idtheftcenter.org

3https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0075-lost-or-stolen-credit-atm-and-debit-cards.pdf

 

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