When your purse or wallet is stolen, it can mean a major upheaval in your daily life, as you're now left without all of these necessities.
Besides the problems carrying out your day-to-day activities and getting around without a credit card or money, you're also faced with the potential of identity theft.
If you've been the victim of a mugging or purse-snatching, here are nine critical steps to take:
1. Report it to the police. Filling out a police report is essential if you want any non-identifying items, such as iPods and other electronics, to be returned if they are found by the police. Without a police report, the police will have no idea your belongings have been stolen, and you may not be able to go after the thief if they are found.
2. Look for it nearby. Often, a purse thief will grab what they want, discarding the rest quickly in the nearest trashcan or dumpster. Search the immediate area as soon as you realize it's gone, and for an hour or two afterwards. Even if your wallet and credit cards are gone, you may get the rest of the contents back this way.
3. Assume it is gone for good. Still, you can't rely on your diligent searching or the police report as a guarantee that your stuff will be returned; in most cases, you'll never see your purse or its contents again. Consider it gone forever, and take the next steps accordingly.
4. Contact credit card companies immediately. Act quickly, before a thief has the chance to start running up your credit card bill. Contact your bank and credit card companies to report the theft. If you haven't already, now is a great time to copy the fronts and backs of every card in your wallet so that in the event if a theft, you'll know exactly what was stolen and who to contact.
5. Contact the three credit reporting agencies. Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union can place a fraud alert on your account, so that attempts to obtain your credit information for any reason will be "red flagged." This will keep the thief from trying to buy a car or open a new credit card in your name.
6. Get a new driver's license. Be sure to mention that your previous card was stolen, as it can be "cancelled" by the DMV when your new card is reissued.
7. Get new cards for less essential accounts. Even your movie rental card or gym membership card can be taken advantage of by the thief. Though it may not seem important at the time, be sure to let these retailers know to cancel the card.
8. Change your locks. If your keys have been stolen, change the locks to both your home and your car. Remember that thieves who have stolen your wallet have your address; if your keys were in your purse, they now have access to both your vehicle and your home.
9. Suspend cell phone service. If your cell phone has been stolen, ask the cell phone company to suspend service on your account until you replace the phone. Otherwise, the thieves can rack up hundreds of dollars in cell phone charges very quickly.
Having your purse or wallet stolen can be very scary, no matter the circumstances. If it ever happens to you, you are now prepared to deal with the aftermath as quickly as possible.