If Your Wallet Disappears
The AARP Bulletin often highlights the many effects of the loss or theft of one’s wallet or purse. Remaining diligent about keeping your belongings secure is a year-round commitment, and during the holiday season, it is even more important to keep these valuable items secured; they are easy targets in the hustle and bustle at the local mall.
You can protect yourself by making a photocopy of everything you keep in your wallet. This includes your driver’s license and other forms of identification, credit cards, insurance cards, and video and library cards. You may want to keep copies of these documents both at home and in the hotel room safe when traveling. The backs of your credit cards contain valuable information such as security codes and contact information in case your card is lost or stolen. If you are an American Express card member, you may want to consider using the American Express Credit Card Registry for your card information.
If your wallet does become lost or stolen, there are several important steps to take:
- Call your credit card companies immediately. Do not request to “cancel” your account; instead ask for an “account number change.” Cancelling your account can affect your credit score and cause problems if you have an outstanding balance. Let the credit card company know that you do not want anything on your credit card report showing “cancelled by consumer.” This advice comes from Linda Foley of the Identity Theft Resource Center.
- Change your passwords so your accounts cannot be opened by someone else. Passwords should include letters, numbers, and symbols, and should not be common words such as your mother’s maiden name or the names of children or pets.
- You should file a report with the police not only in the area in which your wallet disappeared, but also in your hometown. Keep copies of the reports for later use.
- Contact the three major credit reporting agencies and ask them to put a fraud alert on your account. You can contact them at the following numbers and websites: Experian, 888-397-3742 (www.experian.com); TransUnion, 800-680-7289 (www.transunion.com); Equifax, 800-525-6285 (www.equifax.com). If you have a fraud alert on your account, creditors are required to verify your identity before issuing new credit in your name.
- Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles and ask it to put a flag on your license file. This will make it more difficult for a thief to have a new driver’s license issued in your name. You will likely have to replace your license in person, and in the process have to prove your identity by means of a birth certificate, passport or Social Security card. (By the way, you should not carry your Social Security card in your wallet.)
- Notify your bank that your wallet is missing. You will need a new ATM or debit card and perhaps even a new checking account.
- Approximately two weeks after your wallet disappears, check your credit history. You can visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228 to obtain your free reports. You can look under the section labelled “Inquiries” to see if any new credit applications have been made in your name. The two-week time period would be enough time for thieves to apply for credit, but not enough time for cards to be issued. You should recheck your credit report two to three months after the first review.
The attorneys at Hook Law Center can assist clients with their estate, financial, insurance, life care, long-term care, veterans’ benefits and special needs planning issues.
ASK KIT KAT
Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, what do dog kisses mean?
Kit Kat: Well, those slobbery dog kisses or licks actually mean that your dog really loves you. We cats do the same thing. When my parents go out of town, I miss them so much. I don’t know when they are coming back, and every day I hope that will be the day. When they do come back, I smother them with licks.
But back to dogs–there has actually been some research on this. When people have pleasant interactions with other people or other animals, they release a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is responsible for lowering blood pressure and reducing stress. This was learned through some experiments done by Miho Nagasawa of Azabu University in Japan. They looked at the behavior of 55 dogs and their owners. Those dogs (23 %) who gazed at their owners for more than 2 minutes at a time produced a measurable increase in oxytocin in their owners. Another study in Sweden found that owners, who kissed their dogs more often than a control group, had higher levels of oxytocin
This stuff is so interesting, but not really surprising. We animals do really love our humans. They take good care of us, and we repay them with love. Love can’t be measured in dollars, but now we definitely know it can be measured. If you want to know more about research on dogs, visit the web-based service called Dognition, founded by scientists at Duke University.