Losing your wallet while vacationing can be a huge problem. You’re cruising in the Bahamas and all of a sudden your wallet goes missing. Whether lost or stolen, you need to act immediately to recover your property and protect your identity.
First, you need to determine that your wallet has actually been stolen. Call around to the restaurants, bars, theme parks, and beaches to retrace your steps. More often than not, an initial panic makes you act illogically. It may have even slid out of your pocket, tucking itself into the cushions of the couch in your condo.
Report a Stolen/Missing Wallet to the Local Police Department
If you’ve retraced your steps and are still coming up empty-handed, you should head to the local police department and report stolen or missing property. This will help you in filing travel insurance claims, getting back on an airplane, and recovering your wallet if it was indeed stolen.
Here’s a list of acceptable forms of ID from the TSA website. If you were smart and brought along an extra form of ID, nice job! It doesn’t hurt to make photocopies of your ID and leave them in a hotel safe. If you didn’t, the TSA has “other ways to confirm your identity, like using publicly available databases,” so that you will be able to get back home. The police report will certainly help in this instance, as well.
- Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
- U.S. passport
- U.S. passport card
- DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
- U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
- Permanent resident card
- Border crossing card
- DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
- Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
- Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
- HSPD-12 PIV card
- Foreign government-issued passport
- Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
- Transportation Worker Identification Credential
Report Lost/Stolen Cards
The most stressful thing about losing your wallet is the fact that a thief now has access to thousands, possibly millions of dollars through your credit cards and, possibly, bank accounts. But canceling your cards means your credit score will take a hit, and opening new ones will be more hassle than you need.
Luckily, you can report your card as lost or stolen, meaning the company will put a hold on all accounts as you request. Every card issuer provides this service to keep your money protected in the event of a lost wallet. Make sure to request new credit cards be sent to your home address with new numbers.
Below are the phone numbers to the major credit card companies to report lost or stolen cards.
- U.S.: 1-800-MASTERCARD
- Outside U.S.: 1-636-722-7111
- U.S. & Canada: 1-303-967-1096
- Outside U.S.: 1-512-865-2002
- U.S.: 1-800-992-3404
- Outside U.S.: Call collect at 336-393-1111
- U.S.: 1-800-DISCOVER
- Online: Lost or stolen card portal
- U.S.: 1-800-432-3117
- Outside U.S.: Call collect at 1-302-594-8200
- U.S.: 800.975.4722
- Outside U.S.: 888-662-4722
Initiate A Fraud Alert
Head to each of these three websites to report fraud alert:
These services will alert you with a phone call in the event that someone else tries to set up a new account or take out a loan in your name. While these websites are very useful immediately following a wallet theft, their services are free for only 90 days. It would be smart to look to identity management professionals that provide comprehensive and lasting fraud protection so you can have a team working on a swift recovery and monitoring for future compromises.
Replace Your Driver’s License
Besides losing your wallet, there’s almost nothing more frustrating than a trip to the DMV. Unfortunately, bad things happen to good people. When your wallet went missing, it probably took your driver’s license or state-issued ID along with it. Without a license, you’re not legally allowed to be on the road, rendering you incapable of getting anywhere. You’re also more vulnerable to identity theft and fraud when your driver’s license is in the hands of the wrong person.
You should report your card missing directly to the DMV by calling the location nearest you. If you can go there in person, even better — they’ll process your application faster and will reissue your new license at once. For more information about the specific guidelines in your state, visit the DMV’s Replace License page.
You should know that it’s not good practice to carry your social security card on your person. Memorize your social security number and leave the physical card at home and in a safe place. If you need to have it in your wallet for whatever reason and the wallet is stolen, you need to report the theft of your social security card immediately. Follow this guide from the Social Security Administration to get a replacement card with the same number. Take steps to protect your identity by filing a loss claim with the FTC at 1-877-ID-THEFT and the IRS Identity Protection Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
Some rules change when you’re traveling internationally. While every place is different, you may be in a situation where the police don’t speak the same language that you do. If you’re on an international vacation and you lose your wallet, locate the nearest U.S. Embassy through the State Department website. If you’re unsure what steps to take to get home, they’ll be your best chance at help with getting things like your passport or money from home. You can schedule an appointment Monday–Friday.
Passport, Keys: Watch out for Your Purse, Too!
These items might not be in your wallet, but we can certainly imagine them in a purse or shoulder bag — both of which can just as easily go missing while vacationing. If you lost your purse, follow the steps above to recover or protect your wallet essentials. But what if you also happened to lose your passport and keys? It’s equally important that those items are recovered and protected — especially if your purse has been stolen by a potential criminal.
Losing your passport while on vacation abroad may be one of the most stressful events that can happen while you’re trying to relax. Without your passport you cannot enter or leave other countries, including the U.S. Thankfully, the American government has made the process for recovering your passport in a foreign country as easy as possible. Here are the steps you need to take:
- Find the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department website; report your passport missing.
- Complete a DS-64 form. Electronically submit an online form via the US Passports & International Travel’s website. Remember to bring any other forms of ID that prove who you are.
- They will make you complete an interview with a consular officer. They will need a witness if you cannot provide other forms of identification as listed in the previous step.
- Following the verification of your identity and proof you aren’t incapable of holding a passport (be it an outstanding arrest warrant or court order), you’ll complete an application for a replacement passport and pay a fee. You’ll be provided with a new passport so you can continue your vacation.
You could have a house key in your wallet, or even your entire keyring in your purse, so in the event of missing keys, there are a few steps you should take. First, build a list of every key you’re missing. If you’ve lost your house keys while on vacation, it may be tough getting back into your house when you get home. Before you take off, leave your spare house key with a trusted friend or neighbor.
Next, if you’re truly concerned about a missing house key, change your locks. It could be a long shot, but if a criminal has stolen your wallet or purse, they most likely will have your driver’s license which contains your address. If you just headed up north for the weekend, it would be very easy for a thief to plot a break-in. Take all the precautions you can by heading to the local hardware store for new locks or by calling up a handyman to help.
Plan Ahead With Preventative Measures to Protect Your Wallet
The best way to retain peace of mind while on vacation is to take preventative steps in guarding your property. Identity management companies such as AmTrust exist to deal with the often frustrating and costly accident of misplacing your wallet. We offer reliable credit and ID monitoring so we can spot thieves from any part of the world — acting so quickly that we may contact you before you even realize that your wallet is gone.
Here are four more preventive steps that will help you avoid wallet theft while on vacation:
- Don’t carry everything in one “container.” Separate important documents and identification cards — you don’t need to carry your passport while you’re riding roller coasters at the amusement park.
- Don’t sign up for trips, hotels, or flights through unknown companies: Those sites could be run by scammers trying to steal your personal information. This could be bad news if you’re in a place like Hawaii and need to hop islands via plane to get back to the international airport.
- Make sure you protect your smartphone. Turn on passwords, fingerprint verifications and other security settings. If you have an iPhone, utilize your Find My iPhone app. This is important especially when traveling because a lost or stolen phone may have just as much — or more — personal information than your wallet. If your smartphone is stolen, contact your provider to cancel service. Or, if you’re lucky, try tracking it with a lost phone GPS app with another smartphone and contact the authorities.
- Make copies of your driver’s license, passport, credit cards, social security card, and anything else that might be compromised. When recovering your losses from a wallet theft, it’ll be much easier with a paper trail.