Money

What to do when your wallet or purse are lost or stolen in the UK?

If your wallet or purse are lost or stolen in the UK then this guide will help you to practically deal with the issue and to reduce the associated risks.

With so much of your life contained in your wallet or purse, it’s perhaps unsurprising that losing this can be stressful… in fact very stressful.

Before we begin, don’t panic! It’s important to deal with a lost/stolen wallet or purse quickly but you can and will deal with it. It might be inconvenient and stressful, but it isn’t the end of the world. Millions of wallets and purses are lost and stolen every year and life goes on.

These things happen and it’s not helpful to blame yourself or anyone else… unless it’s the person who stole it. Instead focus on taking positive action to resolve the matter.

This guide is written with UK readers specifically in mind, however most of the guidance is applicable regardless of which country you live in.

Share what you think by commenting below and please like and share. 

Look for your wallet or purse

Retrace your steps to be certain that it’s definitely lost or stolen. Check pockets and anywhere you may have placed the wallet/purse.

If you have been sat down check the area to see if it may have fallen out of your pocket or bag. It’s particularly common for things to move around when in the car, so check down the side and under seats and in the foot wells.

Try to remember where you last had your wallet or purse and look thoroughly for it, if it was in a store for example then call them to see if it has been handed in.

IMPORTANT POINT: It’s important to look for your wallet or purse but not to spend an excessive amount of time looking for it before you report the loss. If you do not report the loss to any debit or credit card issuers promptly then you could be held liable for any fraudulent activity that occurs.

Make a list of all of the contents

It is a good idea to make a list of the contents of your wallet or purse whilst you can still remember these.

This list will help you to deal with each item without missing anything and also when reporting the matter to the police. As you resolve each item on your list you can record the action taken for peace of mind and future reference. 

Immediately notify debit & credit card providers

IMPOTANT POINT: If your wallet or purse contained any debit/credit cards or cheque books then you should immediately notify the issuers so that these can be cancelled. If you fail to notify the issuers in a timely fashion then you may be liable for any fraudulent activity that occurs.

You should never write down passwords for online banking or bank card pin numbers. If you ignore this advice your financial provider may also hold you liable for any fraudulent activity due to your negligence.

Review your accounts online for unusual activity

Immediately log on to your online banking and check for unusual activity and unrecognised transactions. Make a note of any transaction that you don’t recognise.

Pay particular attention to “earmarked” transactions. Earmarked transactions are purchases that have been approved but have not yet cleared on to your account. Some banks and credit card companies detail earmarked transactions as “pending” transactions.

IMPORTANT POINT: If you are unable to access your transactions online then call your provider and ask them to check for you. Usually your provider will check your transactions with you when you report your card or cheque book as lost or stolen.

IMPORTANT POINT: In the UK, providing that you report the loss or theft of debit/credit cards and cheque books immediately then your bank or lender will usually make good any fraudulent activity. If however you delay reporting the loss or theft of any bank details then you may be held liable. This could also be the case if you have been negligent, for example by keeping your pin number written down with the lost/stolen card.

Report any fraudulent activity immediately

If you spot fraudulent activity on any of your accounts, then you should notify your provider immediately. In most cases your bank or credit card provider will reimburse you for any fraudulent transactions ensuring that you’re not out of pocket.

You may however be refused this protection if you fail to immediately notify your provider or if you have acted negligently, for example by writing down your cards pin number.

Always contact your debit or credit card providers immediately where cards are lost or stolen or you spot fraudulent activity on an account.

Notify the DVLA

It’s important to immediately notify the DVLA if your driving licence has been lost or stolen.

You can complete the full process online via the www.gov.uk website. The lost & stolen licence form will notify the DVLA of the loss or theft and order you a new licence online. You can access the DVLA lost & stolen licence form here.

IMPORTANT POINT: At the time of writing this article the DVLA charge £20 for this service. To complete the process online will need all of your personal details to hand, such as your national insurance number.

IMPORTANT POINT: Always ensure that you are on the official government website before keying in any personal details. Unfortunately there are lots of scam websites who pass themselves off as the DVLA. These websites make their money by acting as a middle man and charging you more, some may have even more sinister motives so be careful.

Losing your driving licence can be worrying but there are protections in place providing that you notify the DVLA. When your new driving licence is issued it does in a sense supersede your previous licence, with a new issue number, a new valid from date and a new serial number.

Should anyone ever attempt to use your lost/stolen driving licence as identification then the protections above provide some security. Remember that the purpose of photo ID is to ensure that a person resembles the picture on the ID and that their age is consistent with the date of birth etc… Unless they’re your long lost twin brother or sister it will be quite difficult for anyone to use your lost/stolen driving licence as ID. Should the lost/stolen licence ever be presented as ID to the police then they’re able to identify that this is lost or stolen and that a more recent licence has been issued.

IMPORTANT POINT: It’s vital that you notify the DVLA promptly if your driving licence is lost or stolen; Failure to do so will mean that the protections above won’t apply and as a result you could be at a heightened risk of identity theft and fraud.

Still Concerned?

If you’re still concerned about identity theft then there are a couple of other things you can do to mitigate the risks:

Firstly you can regularly check your credit file for any unusual activity and/or sign up for a service that notifies you of any new credit searches or new accounts opened in your name.

Experian offer a service called identity plus which enables you to view your latest credit report daily. With Identity plus they will also notify you of any changes to your credit file such as new credit searches and new accounts opened. At the time of writing Experian offer this service for £6.99 per month.

Secondly you can regularly review your driving licence account online to see if any driving penalties have occurred which you don’t recognise. This helps you to spot if anyone else may have presented your lost/stolen driving licence as ID when caught speeding for example.

You can access the driving licence information service from the www.gov.uk website. If you know your driver number click here. If you don’t know your driving licence number click here and you can enter your personal details instead.

For anything else you can contact the DVLA by telephone on 0300 790 1278. This number is correct at the time of writing. 

GOING FORWARD: it’s advisable to never carry your driving licence in your wallet or purse. Instead it’s best to keep this out of sight and in a secure place at home. It is not a legal requirement to carry a driving licence and should you ever be asked to produce one by the police, you have several days to do so.

Report the loss or theft to the police

When your wallet or purse has been lost or stolen you need to report this to the police. Unless it’s an emergency then you should report this via the non-emergency police number which is 101, for emergencies dial 999.

It’s important to report the loss or theft to the police so this can be recorded and where a crime has occurred the police can appropriately investigate. Reporting the loss or theft to the police also helps them to reunite you with your wallet or purse if this is handed in.

IMPORTANT POINT: When you report the loss/theft to the police they will provide you with a crime reference number. You may be asked for this reference number when reporting the incident to other companies, such as your insurance company. 

Monitor your credit record

If you are concerned about identity theft following the loss of your wallet or purse then monitoring your credit file is a great way to manage the risk.

Identity theft usually involves someone pretending to be you to borrow money or open new accounts in your name. As these applications will usually require a credit check and will show on your credit file, monitoring your credit file is a great way to get piece of mind.

IMPORTANT POINT: You can regularly check your credit file for any unusual activity and/or sign up for a service that notifies you of any new credit searches or new accounts opened in your name. If you spot anything that doesn’t look right contact the provider and the credit reference agency immediately.

Experian offer a service called identity plus which enables you to view your latest credit report daily. With Identity plus they will also notify you of any changes to your credit file such as new credit searches and new accounts opened. At the time of writing Experian offer this service for £6.99 per month.

Notify reward/loyalty card providers

Although less important than cancelling credit or debit cards you do need to report the loss of any loyalty/reward cards to the card providers.

When reported your old card will be cancelled ensuring any points or rewards you have accrued to date are protected. You will then be issued with a new card and the old card will be deactivated.  

Contact all other providers

Depending on what else was in your wallet or purse there may be other providers that you need to notify. Examples could include membership cards for any services or professional bodies.

It’s best to notify all providers where details have been lost so the old card is cancelled and a new card can be issued.

When to consider changing locks

If you had a door key in your lost wallet or purse then it’s advisable to consider changing the locks in question.

This point is particularly relevant if in addition to a key there were other items in your wallet/purse that also included your address or identity.

Criminals have been known to copy lost or stolen keys and then hand these into police. The homeowner thinks they’re safe and months later the criminals can use the copied keys to burgle the address.

You may be covered for lost/stolen keys and replacement locks under your home insurance so it’s worth checking your policy documents.

Check insurance policies

If you’re out of pocket then you may be able to claim on one of your insurance policies, if you have any that is.

Some home insurance policies do cover lost/stolen wallets and purses although you’d need to check your policy documents to be sure. Similar cover is also provided with some identity and fraud protection policies, which in the past were often tagged onto credit cards and bank accounts for a monthly fee.

Depending on how much you’re out of pocket and also your policy excess it may not be worthwhile making a claim. If you claim on a home insurance policy then your premium may well rise at its renewal.

Still worried about fraud & identity theft?

Losing a lot of personal data in a wallet or purse can be a real worry, but there are things you can do to get peace of mind.

As a first port of call you should regularly review your credit record. There are services which notify you of any new credit searches or new accounts opened in your name. If you spot anything that doesn’t look right contact the provider and the credit reference agency immediately.

Experian offer a service called identity plus which enables you to view your latest credit report daily. With Identity plus they will also notify you of any changes to your credit file such as new credit searches and new accounts opened. At the time of writing Experian offer this service for £6.99 per month.

What about CIFAS?

You can also apply for a protective registration via CIFAS. A protective registration is essentially a flag on your credit file which lets companies know you’re at an increased risk of falling victim to identity theft. The protective registration prompts companies to carry out enhanced fraud prevention checks to ensure it’s definitely you applying for any new product or service. A protective registration costs £25 for two years at the time of writing and you can apply for one here.

Although a protective registration can make it more difficult for identity thieves it may also slow things down for you. Companies will complete enhanced fraud checks on all applications including your genuine ones. There are also some examples of the protective registrations impacting the success of genuine credit applications, although in theory this should not happen.

A protective registration can be a real help where you have been the victim of identity theft. Where you are concerned about becoming one then regularly checking your credit file may be a less extreme way of getting peace of mind. If you do apply for a protective registration then any existing products or services will be unaffected, as the enhanced fraud prevention checks will only apply to new applications that require a credit search.

Note that a protective registration will only be seen if the application for a service or product requires a credit check.

What if you find your wallet or purse?

If you have reported your wallet or purse as lost or stolen but later find this then notify the police so that they can update their records.

In the case of any bank cards and ID’s which have already been cancelled, these should usually be destroyed once your new cards and documents have been received. If unsure then check with the issuer to see what they would like you to do in this situation.

Don’t panic

Whilst it’s undoubtedly a stressful experience to have your wallet or purse lost or stolen it is not the end of the world. Take a deep breath and follow the steps above to sort it out.

What to do differently in future?

Only carry the absolute essentials in your wallet or purse going forward… The less there is in there, the smaller the impact if it is lost or stolen.

Contrary to popular belief it is not a legal requirement to carry a driving licence with you, even when driving. In fact the police actually advise you to keep photo ID such as your driving licence securely at home.

The official police website askthe.police.uk states “it is an offence not to produce your driving licence… when requested to do so by a police officer. However the usual action is that the police officer will issue a HO/RT1/ (called a ‘producer’) requiring you to produce the documents at a police station of your choice within 7 days. If this is done and they are in order, then that is the end of the matter…. …From a crime prevention point of view it is better never to leave your driving documents in your car and produce them within the 7 day period.

The points above are equally valid to bank cards, credit cards, membership cards and cash. Only carry what is essential and keep cash sums to a minimum.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading, hopefully you have found this guide useful.

Remember not to panic! Losing a wallet or purse may be inconvenient and stressful, but it’s not the end of the world. Millions of wallets and purses are lost and stolen every year and life goes on.

Share what you think by commenting below and please like and share. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *