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10 Things to Do If You Lose Your Wallet

10 Things to Do If You Lose Your Wallet
Rebecca Safier
Rebecca SafierUpdated April 28, 2023
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Your wallet is one of your most valuable possessions, and losing it can be extremely stressful. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent fraudulent charges on your credit cards or withdrawals from your bank account.From canceling your cards to freezing your credit to filing a police report, here’s what to do when you lose your wallet. 

You've Lost Your Wallet: Now What?

If you lose your wallet, you may start to panic and have no idea what to do. And you may wonder how to get money when you lose your wallet.Unfortunately, you may not be able to recoup any cash or loyalty cards unless you’re able to locate your wallet. But whether your wallet was stolen or lost, there are important actions you should take right away to protect yourself from theft. Here’s what to do if you lose your wallet so you can make sure your bases are covered. 

1. Trying to Locate It

Before you start canceling your credit cards, make sure your wallet truly is lost. Think about the last time you remember having it, and retrace your steps to see if you can find it. Some companies sell bluetooth trackers that help you locate your wallet when it’s within a few hundred feet. If you have one, make sure to tap into its tracking capability right away. 

2. Notifying Your Bank

If you’re sure your wallet is missing, the first thing you should do is to let your bank know that your wallet was lost or stolen. Notifying your bank can put them on alert for any suspicious transactions or withdrawals from your bank account

3. Canceling Debit Cards

While speaking to your bank, ask them to cancel your debit card. That way, no one can withdraw money from your account. Your bank should be able to cancel your debit card right away and issue a new one in its place. 

4. Calling Your Credit Card Company

Next up, call your credit card companies to let them know your cards were lost or stolen. You can ask them to place an immediate freeze on your cards, whether you have unsecured or secured credit cards, so that no one can use them. Many credit card companies also let you freeze your cards via their mobile app. You can usually sign into your account and find this option in the “manage your card” section. While you’re doing this, review the latest charges on your credit cards to make sure there aren’t any suspicious transactions. If there are, you can try disputing credit card charges and your credit card company should remove them. If you find your wallet, you can remove the freeze and start using your cards again. If you’re certain your wallet is lost or was stolen, you can ask your credit card companies to cancel your credit cards completely and send you replacements. If you have an authorized user on your credit card, be sure to let them know the card has been canceled.Find out if the card issuer charges any credit card processing fees to replace your card so you’re not caught unawares. 

5. Contacting the Police

Filing a police report can be a useful step, regardless of whether you think your wallet was stolen or lost. That way, if someone finds your wallet and turns it in to the police, the authorities will have your contact information on hand. Plus, the police report can become supporting evidence if the loss of your wallet turns into a case of identity theft. 

6. Setting Up Fraud Alerts

Not only is losing your wallet a huge inconvenience, but it also comes with the risk of identity theft. You can protect yourself by setting up fraud alerts with the major credit bureaus, Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion®. You can also freeze your credit, meaning no one will be able to open a credit card or take out a loan in your name. Review your credit report for any signs of unauthorized activity. Recommended: Bank Account Freeze, Explained

7. Replacing Your Driver's License/ID

Once you’ve secured your credit cards and bank account, you’ll want to get another copy of your driver’s license. You’ll need to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) about replacing your license. Fees vary depending on the state, but in Massachusetts, for instance, the cost of replacing a driver’s license is $25. 

8. Contacting Your Health Insurance Company

If your health insurance card was in your wallet, you’ll also want to reach out to your health insurance company about replacing it. Having your card on hand is important for doctor, dentist, and other healthcare appointments. If you’ve lost any other cards, contact the appropriate companies about sending you new ones. 

9. Developing a Plan to Pay for Things Without a Wallet

As you wait for your new debit and credit cards to arrive, you might be anxious about how to get money when you’ve lost your wallet. There are a few steps you can take: 
  • Take out cash from your local bank branch. You’ll likely need your account number, which you should be able to find on past bank statements. If you have another form of ID, like a passport, that could help, too. You may even want to set up a new savings account so that you have another account to withdraw money from, should you need it.
  • Wire money to a transfer service. You can sign into your bank account online and wire money to a service like Western Union. You’ll likely need your passport or another ID in order to pick up the money. 
  • Ask a friend or family member for help. A friend or family member might be willing to spot you temporarily while you wait for your new cards to arrive. Or, you could use a peer-to-peer app like Venmo to transfer someone money. Then, they’ll withdraw the amount from their own bank account and give it to you in cash. 

10. Don't Panic

Losing a wallet is stressful, there’s no doubt about it. And at first, you may find yourself starting to freak out if you lose your wallet. But as long as you take the steps above to help  protect your bank accounts and identity from theft, you shouldn't lose any more money than whatever cash you were carrying at the time. Make an inventory of all the cards you had in your wallet, and call the appropriate companies about replacing them in order of priority. While it might take a few weeks for things to get completely sorted, you’ll eventually regain everything you need. If you’re signed up for automatic payments with any service providers, make sure to update your new credit card information. For instance, if your internet provider bills your credit card every month, you’ll need to update your account with your new credit card number.

The Takeaway

Whether your wallet was stolen or you somehow lost it, it’s important to act quickly to freeze your credit cards and cancel your debit card. Review your accounts and monitor your credit for any suspicious activity. Placing fraud alerts and freezing your credit can also prevent anyone from opening a line of credit in your name. As long as you take these steps, you can help keep your situation from getting worse, and everything should be sorted out in a matter of weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the chances of finding a lost wallet?
What happens if you lose your wallet?
Should I call 911 for a lost wallet?
Photo credit: iStock/AndreyPopov

About the Author

Rebecca Safier

Rebecca Safier

Rebecca Safier has nearly a decade of experience writing about personal finance. Formerly a senior writer with LendingTree and Student Loan Hero, she specializes in student loans, financial aid, and personal loans. She is certified as a student loan counselor with the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors (NACCC).
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