D. Gary Davis
One of the certainties of life, like death and taxes, is that at some time your wallet will be lost. This could be a temporary situation such as being lost at home or maybe even being taken by a thief and never returned. It is best practices to begin preparing now, as a lost or stolen wallet often results in identity theft. This is never a good thing, and three months before Christmas, and the Holiday activities, are a sure fire way to remove any semblance of the "most wonderful time of the year” from your life. Reading an article from AARP earlier this year gave me a few new ideas to mention that may make this less hectic than it could be and I wanted to share with you and your family.
A wallet, billfold, or any object used for transporting money in a man’s pocket or a woman’s purse should never contain your social security card. A possible exception could be found if you are heading to the Social Security Office, but even then leave it somewhere safer than in a billfold. Other items that should never find long term solace in your billfold could include your birth certificate, spare keys for your home or car, a PIN (Personal Identification Number) and/or Password list for bank cards or online accounts or a blank check, or two. Some people also carry their Medicare card around with them. If you feel that you must keep the card with you, try making a photocopy of the original, block out several of the SSN (Social Security Numbers) and then keep this in your wallet, or billfold, instead.
If you have a home printer, that also copies, you may find it useful to periodically line up EVERY card in your wallet (driver’s license, credit and/or debit cards, insurance cards, etc. and make a copy of the FRONT and then also the BACK of this and then keep in a different safe place at your home. If you were to find that your wallet were to really be missing or lost, you will have a list of the appropriate, and current, people, businesses and agencies in order to contact them and inform them of the need for action to try and make sure that your information remains safe.
A BEGINNING list of things to do when one finds their wallet is missing might include:
1) Contact your bank or financial institution and arrange to start the process of changing your PIN (Personal Identification Number) and cancel or arrange to have your ATM card replaced. It is also advisable to get a new checking account if your checkbook were to join with the other missing articles. Most bank, and/or financial institutions, limit your personal liability if they are notified immediately, but may require some form of reimbursement later if they were not notified immediately.
2) It is also advisable to contact each credit card company of which you are a customer and ask for an account number change to protect the previous one from being valid if someone else tries to use it.
3) File a report with your local Police and/or Sherriff’s Department. This helps to establish a record of your loss. Once you receive a copy of this report it will be useful in your efforts to document that you are and also were diligent in trying to limit your, and their, losses.
4) Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to inquire about a replacement driver’s license. You may also request that a lost, or stolen, wallet warning be placed in you file. This may prove beneficial in future activities as well.
5) Call your insurance companies, medical, health, auto, to help avoid problems if a thief has an accident and might be using your information (policy, funds and limits) for their care instead of your family’s needs.
6) Check to see if ANY unknown or unusual withdrawals are made across your accounts for months just to help you spot any unwarranted or unauthorized shopping is occurring on your accounts.
7) Check your credit history immediately and also for months later. This helps to limit the ability of thieves to become successful in not only applying for new credit in your name (and identity) but to also hopefully stop the issuance of new credit, and cards, in your name for their use.
No system is 100% perfect but with persistence and also the watchful eye of a loving and protective family the chance of unknown and unlawful use of one’s credit and personal and/or financial information can be limited not only at this time, but all year long. I hope that some of these ideas may help you to protect yourself, your family and our community. Thank you for doing your part to continue to make our community and Bradley County, Tennessee at its best!