After you determine that the wallet is definitely gone and not just hiding in a couch cushion, there are some steps you must take quickly:
1. File a police report to establish a record of your loss. They'll need to know when it was lost or stolen, what you think happened and what was in the wallet.
2. Call your credit union or bank. You may need to close and reopen your accounts, and likely need to cancel your Debit, Credit, and ATM cards.
3. If your checkbook is missing, you'll need to close that account and reconfigure any direct deposits and auto-payments you've arranged.
4. Call your credit card issuers. They will cancel your cards and issue new ones. They'll also ask you about recent transactions. Under federal credit rules, if you report the loss before your card is used fraudulently, you are not liable; if not, your liability is limited to $50.
5. Call the three major credit reporting bureaus and ask to put a fraud alert on your file, to prevent identity theft in the future. The initial fraud alert stays on for 90 days. You also can request an extended fraud alert, which stays in effect for seven years.
Equifax: (800) 525-6285 or www.equifax.com Experian: (888) 397-3742 or www.experian.com TransUnion: (800) 680-7289 or www.transunion.com.
6. If your Social Security card was in your wallet (we recommend you not keep it in your wallet), you'll have to call your local Social Security Administration office.
7. Order your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus to make sure there's nothing fraudulent on there. You are entitled to one free report from each of the three bureaus every 12 months through www.annualcreditreport.com – the official site created under the auspices of the Federal Trade Commission. Also, be sure to regularly review your credit union, bank, and credit card statements.