How Did This Happen?

Yesterday around 8pm I finished shopping our local grocery store two blocks away from my home. I paid with my cards in my wallet, and I put my wallet in my pant pocket. The pocket is a bit shallow and on the way home it dropped without my notice, since I was listening to music with earphones. Before I reach home I already realized my wallet missing from my pocket. I traced back to the grocery store twice but did not find anything. The sky turned dark and I gave up.

What Lessons Did I Learn?

Get Used to Life Style Changes

This may be a surprising big realization. Here is the full story.

First, the pants I was wearing were very old; I have not worn those for years due to my waist size. I have been exercising quite regularly in recent months and have lost quite a lot of fat, so I simply was able to fit in them nicely now. Second, since I have been hitting the gym regularly, I have not often wore semi-formal pants for a few months. I usually put my wallet in my bag these days. This week my local gym is in maintenance and that is the reason that I started wearing the pants. What’s more, I put my wallet in pant pockets, but did not realize the possibility the wallet can easily drop out. Therefore, the result is that all the things happen altogether so this unfortunate event happened.

One more thing on life style changes: I used to wear school bags in winter and messenger bags in summer. This sometimes makes me forget things at home or in office. The event this time is a reminder for me to be more cautious on this change too.

Always File a Police Report

Though there is the potential of my identity being maliciously used for unlawful purposes, I initially thought it no big deal not to file a police report. It turns out it is very necessary to do so. Among everything else, I saved 25 bucks when I apply for a replacement of my university card today once they know that I do have a police report.

Do Not Carry Less Often Used Stuff

I have lost four credit cards altogether. Two of the are used on a daily basis, and two of them are not. If I had not carried them with me all the time, it will be much less trouble. This applies to my Zipcard and Aetna card too.

Also, I became lazier in recent day after visiting my bank ATMs so often (I used to draw $40 each time) so I now draw $100 each time. And in this incident a very large portion of this cash is gone. I should have put some of the notes elsewhere and only bring what I need.

Always Digitize Your Documents

Inside my wallet there are also quite a few restaurant loyalty cards too. These cards are even less valuable and many of them are simply a piece of paper with a loyalty number on it. I’ve lost about another $50 restaurant value simply because I now do not know the number on one of the cards. If I had scanned or photoed the card, or simply have the number recorded, this value is here safe with me now.

Separate Your Smartphone and Your Wallet

Lucky for me my cellphone is not lost. I could call credit card companies and the police department to report the loss immediately (since I do not have a land line at home).

What To Do When A Wallet Is Lost

There are quite many things to do when your wallet is lost. They are categorized and presented by importance.

Replace The Cards

  • Call the card companies to cancel old cards and let them issue new ones. If possible, put an alert if there are further activities on them.
  • Obtain new driver’s license. Remember not drive without a license at any time for any reason.
  • Get replacements for other cards if possible.
  • Talk with managers of local stores to see if your loyalty points can be recovered.
  • Forget about the cash.

Examine Auto Payments

When new cards arrive, first check if automatic credit card payments are still in place. You do not want to miss a payment to have your credit score affected.

Then check utility bill payments, electricity, gas, phone, rent, etc. Usually there would be a grace period for these payments if you, happen to be like me, lose your cards exactly one day before your utility bill date. Some apartment rental companies do not give grace periods for their tenants. Talk to the manager and pay in other means (e.g., a handwritten check).

Update online payment information. When you get your new credit cards, the card numbers will be different from the old ones (as well as the CVC). Log on to your online shopping sites (eBay, Amazon, etc.) to change the remembered credit card numbers. You can do this later, but do not forget this step, since if you declare an old card to be lost and use them again via online shopping, you will get unnecessary fraud alert calls or messages.

Buy A New Wallet

Of course the best way to avoid a total loss like mine is to place your cards everywhere so that you lose one of them at a time, but this is quite inconvenient. Inevitably you will need a new wallet to gather your stuff.

Just remember the lessons, get a new wallet, and move on!

Be Cautious of Suspicious Behaviors

In the long run, if you worry about identity theft, there are identity theft detection services you can subscribe to. If you choose not to, then watch your credit scores, unknown phone calls (might from a debt collector), and obtain credit reports often. These cannot prevent you from being a victim of identity theft, but can at least alert you as soon as possible.