What to Do When Your Wallet is Stolen

Losing your wallet can be a distressing experience, leaving you feeling vulnerable and anxious about potential identity theft and financial losses. That said, having a clear action plan can help alleviate some of the stress associated with such an incident. Below, we’ll explore detailed steps you can take to initiate the recovery process and safeguard yourself against further fraudulent activity.

If you’ve lost your wallet or you suspect your wallet is stolen, you should take steps immediately to protect yourself. Additionally, to reduce the likelihood of long-term consequences, you’ll need to make some more adjustments over time.

Immediate Actions to Take If Your Wallet Is Stolen

If you’ve lost your wallet or think your wallet might be stolen, don’t panic, but do take action. The six most important steps you need to take ASAP are as follows:


1. Contact Your Bank Promptly: 

Your wallet likely contained sensitive financial information such as bank account numbers, PINs, and payment cards. Once you contact your bank, you can decide how to best safeguard your accounts – stop any new transactions, address any pending transactions that you are aware of, suspend or close your accounts. While you are in recovery mode, be sure to watch your account statement carefully for fraudulent transactions. Calling your bank is one option but these days, with so many sophisticated scam activities, we advise that you go to your local branch office. If you are a Bank of the James customer, you can report a card as lost or stolen at any time.

2. File a Police Report: 

While it’s not always likely you’ll recover your wallet after filing a police report, reporting the theft to the local authorities is crucial for a couple of reasons. First, it helps establish your innocence if your identity is misused in any criminal activity. Additionally, it provides documentation to support any claims you may need to make regarding identity theft or fraudulent transactions.

3. Address Stolen Debit & Credit Card: 

If you’re dealing with a lost or stolen wallet, contact debit and credit card issuers immediately so any activity using these cards can be stopped. You cannot legally be held liable for charges made after you’ve reported stolen cards, so reporting quickly to card issuers limits your liability. Once reported, your credit and debit cards will be replaced with new numbers. In many cases, your bank or credit union can issue you a temporary card so you still have access to funds while you wait for your new card(s) to arrive. It is important to note that any automated payments or subscriptions will need to be changed over to your new cards. Sometimes, your credit card company may want to initiate a credit freeze to further safeguard you from malicious activity.

4. Initiate a Fraud Alert: 

Contact one of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion—and request a credit freeze and for a fraud alert to be placed on your credit file. This precautionary measure helps prevent unauthorized individuals from opening new credit card accounts in your name for a period of 90 days, offering additional protection against identity theft.

5. Secure New Identification Document: 

You more than likely carry your driver’s license or state ID in your wallet, but many people carry their social security card, too. We don’t recommend that, because if you do end up with a missing wallet, your social security card can be used to commit identity theft. You’ll want to order a new driver’s license and, if applicable, a replacement social security card. If you carry insurance cards, make sure you request new ones of those as well.

6. Document Your Actions: 

Maintain thorough records of all the steps you take in response to the theft. This includes copies of police reports, correspondence with your bank and credit card issuers, and other relevant documentation. Keep a close watch on your financial statements and transactions, noting any suspicious activity that may indicate fraudulent use of your stolen information.

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Long-Term Precautions and Remedies

Once you’ve tackled the most important tasks when your wallet is lost or stolen, you can take a deep breath. That said, if you want to ensure you aren’t a victim of financial fraud or identity theft, you must stay diligent.

  1. Monitor Financial Activity Closely: Remain vigilant in monitoring your financial accounts for any signs of unauthorized transactions or identity theft. Regularly review your bank statements, credit card bills, and credit reports to promptly identify and report any suspicious activity. If you aren’t already enrolled in some form of online banking, now is a great time to make the switch. This will allow you to monitor your bank accounts on a daily or even hourly basis. Prompt detection of unauthorized purchases can help minimize potential losses and expedite the resolution process.
  2. Keep an Eye on Your Credit Report: A free credit report might show suspicious activity you wouldn’t otherwise notice. Ensure you check your credit score at least monthly, if not more frequently.
  3. Consider Identity Theft Protection Services: Evaluate the option of subscribing to identity theft protection services, which offer additional layers of security and assistance in monitoring your personal information for suspicious activity. While these services typically come at a cost, they can provide peace of mind and comprehensive support in safeguarding your identity and financial well-being.

Bank of the James Is Here For You

If you’ve ever had a lost or stolen wallet, you’re not alone! We are here to support our customers as best we can — you can report your card as stolen or lost immediately, any time, anywhere even if a customer service representative isn’t available. Remember, swift action and thorough documentation are key to a successful recovery process if your wallet is lost or stolen.