Psst...Want to know a secret? A lost or stolen
wallet or purse is a gold mine of information for a new kind of crook-the
Identity thieves can use information found in your wallet or purse-from
credit cards, checks, your Social Security card, even health insurance
cards-to establish new accounts in your name. That could create an
identity crisis that can take months to detect, and even longer to
If your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, the Federal Trade Commission
suggests that you:
- File a report with the police immediately. Get a copy in case your
bank, credit card company or insurance company needs proof of the crime.
- Cancel each credit and charge card. Get new cards with new account
numbers. l Call the fraud departments of the major credit reporting
agencies: Equifax (800) 525-6285; Experian (888) 397-3742; TransUnion
(800) 680-7289; Ask them to put a "fraud alert" on your account and add
a "victim's statement" to your file requesting that creditors contact
you before opening new accounts in your name.
- Ask the credit bureaus for copies of your credit reports. Review
your reports carefully to make sure no additional fraudulent accounts
have been opened in your name or unauthorized changes made to your
existing accounts. In a few months, order new copies of your reports to
verify your corrections and changes, and to make sure no new fraudulent
activity has occurred.
- Report the loss to your bank if your wallet or purse contained bank
account information, including account numbers, ATM cards or checks.
Cancel checking and savings accounts and open new ones. Stop payments on
- Get a new ATM card, account number and Personal Identification
Number (PIN) or password.
- Report your missing driver's license to the department of motor
vehicles. If your state uses your Social Security number as your
driver's license number, ask to substitute another number.
- Change the locks on your home and car if your keys were taken. Don't
give an identity thief access to even more personal property and
If you've been a victim of identity theft, file a complaint with
the FTC by contacting the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline by telephone:
toll-free 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338); TDD: 202-326-2502; by mail: Identity
Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue,
NW, Washington, DC 20580; or online: www.consumer.gov/idtheft. Ask
for a copy of ID Theft:
When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name, a free comprehensive
consumer guide to help you guard against and recover from identity theft.
The FTC publishes free brochures on many consumer issues. For a complete list of
publications, write for Best Sellers, Consumer Response Center,
Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20580;
or call toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357), TDD