Carrying a wallet full of credit, debit cards? This woman’s story may give you pause.

Losing a wallet is more than an inconvenience.

You could lose your cash, credit cards and driver’s license, or worse. You can become a victim of identity theft.

No matter how carefully you think, things happen. It doesn’t have to be a snatch of a wallet or a distraction and grab by a thief.

All it takes is a moment’s carelessness.

That’s how Rose, who asked us to use her middle name to protect her privacy, lost her purse.

“I know exactly what happened to my wallet. It fell from my lap onto the road in front of my house when I got out of my car one frosty mid-March evening,” said the Trenton woman, who hopes others can learn from her experience.

He didn’t realize it was missing until the next day when he stopped at a convenience store.

Instead of canceling all of her credit cards right away, she waited, first calling the restaurant she’d been at the night before and the local police department. Nobody handed it over.

“Whoever picked it up found about $300 in cash — an amount I hardly ever carry with me — and a bunch of cards: driver’s license, debit, Visa, Amex, department store, pharmacy benefits, health insurance, roadside assistance, warehouse club, health savings account. , arthouse theater memberships, airport parking, and a $50 four-year gift card for a store whose merchandise lacks traction,” says Rose.

Also missing were the ticket stubs she had set aside for her memory box, $2 saved for a nephew who collected odd currency, a prescription for a blood test and half a dozen store membership tokens—the kind people usually keep on their key chains—but Rose kept hers. in his wallet.

He got to work, starting with his credit card.

Because he didn’t have a card number, the company identified him by the last four digits of his Social Security number, he said.

“That alone made me nervous, even though I knew the request was valid and all card issuers had my full number,” he said.

The credit card cancellation went smoothly, but the debit card presented challenges.

The bank’s website allows some users to “pause” card use, but the card doesn’t have that option. The card also cannot be canceled using the bank’s app or website, he said.

“No, that requires a long tangle with telephone tree hell,” he said.

Changing his SIM was a pleasant surprise, he said. He learned that he could get a replacement online.

“Yay! There’s no excuse not to work in the morning, and it’s only charged $11 online,” he says. “To do so, however, you have to know the license number – not something I wrote down.”

But he has what he calls a “cache” of expired driver’s licenses and passports at home so he can enter the correct numbers. He received a link to print out a 30 day temporary license.

The next task is to replace non-financial cards, health cards and key tags. He realized that many were offering apps.

“Of course, now I can worry about the security of the app, but it’s like thinking about a meteorite arriving at my house,” he said, calling the app an upgrade from carrying the tag in his wallet.

Rose said she’s grateful her credit is locked in a credit freeze so she’s less worried about identity theft and no one using her card.

He also noted that he was using USPS Informed Delivery, something he said his Bamboozled column warned him about. It sends you daily emails so you can track what’s delivered, in Rose’s case, allowing her to track replacement credit and debit cards.

There is much that can be learned from Rose’s experience.

First, consider “freezing” your credit with three credit bureaus, even if you don’t think your information has been compromised. This stops anyone from opening an account in your name, which can be a mess to clean up. Also consider a credit monitoring service.

Furthermore, we’d argue Rose shouldn’t have waited to cancel the card. No malicious accusations – which he won’t be held accountable for – but it will add to the headache.

Then, consider writing down your credit card and driver’s license numbers. That will make recovery more convenient, but you’ll need to lock it in a safe place if you go that route. You can do the same with any gift card from a local shop.

For all your accounts, consider what the app will offer. You will have to enter personal information to gain access to your account, but it will lighten your wallet. Make sure not to stay logged in to this app. Like Rose lost her wallet, imagine what could happen if you lose your cell phone.

In Rose’s expired driver’s license and passport “caches”, ancestry is the only reason to keep them. It should also be locked in case of a break-in.

Finally, check what you carry in your wallet. Do you really need all of them? Probably not.

All in all, Rose was very lucky.

“That’s right, I took out a few hundred dollars, plus a funky $2 bill and an expensive tri-fold wallet made in Spain from the tastiest red leather,” he said. “Fortunately, eBay has identical ones – new, no labels. I promise I won’t put it on my lap while I’m driving.”

Rose uses a makeup bag given to her by her late friend as a temporary wallet replacement.

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Karin Price Mueller can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @KPMueller.

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