Lost Wallet: What to Do Before It’s Gone

The Costanza Wallet

Image by shareski via Flickr

I’ve never been mugged.  Hopefully, fate has decided that I never will be.  Given my habits, it is far more likely that my money clip will fall out of my wallet without me noticing.

That’s a significant piece of my life.  That would mean I lost my driver’s license, my debit card, my business credit card, my insurance cards, my carry permit, and the only credit card I carry.

What happens when you lose your wallet?  You go to the DMV and get your driver’s license replaced.  You call your credit card companies and ask them to invalidate your credit card numbers and send you new cards.  You write off the missing cash and hope you don’t need the business cards that you tucked in behind the photo of your great-grand-uncle’s neighbor’s cousin’s mistress’s puppy.

How do you reach your credit card company?  You take the card out of your wallet, flip it over, and call the number on the back.  But you lost your wallet?  What now?

Do you have every statement, that comes with the phone numbers you need to call?  I don’t.  At this moment, I do not have the phone number for the bank that issues the debit card for my Health Savings Account.  I don’t actually know who issued the card.  I don’t even know who I would call to report the card missing.

How do you prepare for that?  What can you do do make your life much less miserable when your wallet walks aways with a pickpocket, or falls out of your pocket while you’re tooling down the highway on the back of a motorcycle doing 100 miles per hour, dodging the police and winking at the innocent passerby rocking out to really bad back-room country western music in a late model orange convertible? (That’s probably just me.)

How would you prepare for a lost wallet?

There is an 6 step solution to remove all of the worry about someone finding your wallet and using your credit card to fund a Russian adult chat membership, the only site where basement-dwelling losers can talk to someone pretending to be the cooperative mail-order bride they are about to order.

  1. Take everything that matters out of your wallet.
  2. Find a copy machine or a scanner.
  3. Put everything from your wallet on the scanner.
  4. Scan it.
  5. Flip the cards over and scan again.
  6. Either print the scan and put it in a fire-proof safe, or encrypt it and email it to someone you trust who does NOT live in the same house you do.  If your house burns down, you want to have access to the files.

Depending on the number of things you keep in your wallet, you might have to repeat the steps a few times to get it all copied.  You definitely want to copy both sides, so you can have the card numbers and the phone numbers saved.

Now, if you lose your wallet, you have all of the information you need to deal with the problem and get those cards cancelled.

How do you track your cards and contact information?

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    1. GREAT suggestion! We do this every time we travel away from home … and carry the paper copies with us … and secure them the same as we do our passports.

      Of course, it’s a good idea to always have an up to date copy of all of these things, and it’s easy to do online. Follow the first 5 steps, then for step number 6, deposit the image in your DROPBOX account. That gets the document stored outside your home and in a safely encrypted place that you can reach from other computers.

    2. It is equally possible to have your wallet stolen too. Good reminder though!

    3. Thanks for the reminder Jason! It is not that people can’t find the phone numbers, it is that most can’t remember what all they had in their wallet at the time of theft!

      • I solved that by going to a money clip. I’m very restricted in what I can carry, but I still don’t know the phone numbers.

    4. I think this is a great advice and I’ll be sure to follow through on it soon. Thank you. I never though of emailing my information but with encryption it shouldn’t be all that bad.

      -Ravi Gupta

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