Enduring a stolen purse or wallet can be a traumatic experience.
It’s often made worse by the worry of the thieves going on to use your bank cards or steal your identity to apply for credit.
In today’s Cash Emergency Bible, we look at what to do after your purse or wallet is stolen, including reporting it to your bank and contacting the police, along with how to protect yourself against identity fraud to help make it easier if you are a victim of personal theft.
After your purse or wallet is stolen
Perhaps you realise that your bag has been stolen after turning away for a moment on a crowded train, maybe a pickpocket slides a hand into your handbag and removes your purse on a busy street.
The faster you act, the more quickly you can minimise potential damage to your finances and personal credit.
Alerting your bank about your stolen purse or wallet
As soon as you realise that your bank cards have been stolen you should phone your bank, paying initial attention to debit cards before calling about credit cards.
With debit cards, you may be charged for withdrawals or overdraft charges, whereas you have more protection on your credit card.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll be reimbursed for any cash that you had in your purse or wallet.
Storing your bank details and contact number somewhere safe
Writing down your bank account information along with the banks 24-hour emergency phone number and keeping it somewhere safe will help make this process easier if your cards are stolen and you no longer have them to refer to.
Reporting your stolen purse to the police
Reporting your stolen purse or wallet to the police is important.
Even if you don’t hold out any hope of getting your wallet back, the crime report is usually necessary for claiming on your insurance or helping build a case if the thieves use your bank accounts or steal your identity.
Go online to look up your local police service to see the best way to report the crime, or call the non-emergency police number on 101.
If it is an emergency, then call 999.
Checking your bank accounts and your credit files
Keep a close eye on your bank accounts and your credit reports in the weeks and months following the theft.
Familiarise yourself with Experian and Equifax and keep an eye on your credit report to ensure that nobody is applying for credit using your information, also sign up for alerts for any fraudulent activity.
CIFAS offers protective registration, which is useful if you are worried about identity fraud, although it will slightly slow down the process when you apply for credit due to the extra checks.
Registration costs £20 for two years and a flag is placed alongside your name and personal details in the secure National Fraud Database.
Companies and organisations who are signed up as members of the database will see you’re at risk and take extra steps to protect you, preventing fraudsters from using your details to apply for products and services.
Protecting yourself from personal theft
Thieves are often sophisticated in their tactics and there is frequently nothing you could have done to prevent having your purse or wallet stolen.
Try to remain vigilant always, especially in busy places and keep your valuables out of sight.
With a little preparation, you can also put things in place to help ease the process if you are a victim of theft.
- Check your home insurance policy and consider cover for personal items outside the home including a stolen purse
- Sign up for regular updates from credit reference agencies to help alert you to identify fraud
- Keep an emergency supply of cash at home to ensure you have access to funds if your cards are stolen
- Keep a note of your financial information including bank account and card details at home, somewhere safe
- Never keep your pins numbers in your purse or wallet
- Only keep the debit or credit cards that you plan to use in your purse or wallet and leave anything else at home in a safe place