Recently I lost my wallet. It was stolen with my phone. I didn’t have a game plan, so by the time I figured out what to do, some crook had burned through $1100 on my credit cards and no doubt spent the cash in there too.
It sucks but I’ll survive.
Thinking through what I did, I realise that there was a better way to protect my money. It’s all about reaction time. The quicker you discover you’ve lost your wallet, the better. It’s also about the steps you take when you discover you’ve lost it.
So here’s what I should have done, and what you can do to protect your money when you lose your wallet (and phone).
Step 1: Make a list of your credit cards
Forget about calling the police first. The first thing to do is to get organised and plan. Get a pen and paper and write down a list of everything in your wallet.
In particular, list out your credit cards, especially those with PayPass, PayWave or any other contactless payment methods.
Step 2: Call the credit card companies, starting with contactless cards first
From your list, find all the cards with contactless payments and call those credit card companies first. Ask them to cancel your card.
You can also ask them to issue you a new replacement card on the spot. This won’t cost you anything.
Do this quickly and move to the next credit card company ASAP. Time is of the essence here.
Extra tip: if you have a Commonwealth Bank card, you can call them last.
Whilst on the phone to your other cards, login to NetBank and you can cancel the card online there. This is the most efficient use of your time waiting for the phone operators.
Step 3: Call your mobile phone company
Most people have some sort of banking app on their phone. While it’s unlikely a thief can hack into your app with password protection, you want to ensure that they can’t steal anything so lock it down.
Instead of calling the banks one by one, call your phone company to do a master lock on your phone. Tell them you lost your phone and request a lock on the phone.
This lock requires a special code to unlock, a code that you can only get from the phone company. One call and your phone will be impenetrable by the thief!
Step 4: Call other banks where you have an account
I also had a keycard in my wallet that I use to draw money from the ATM.
Compared to credit cards, these are harder to hack money from, but it’s still worth calling up to cancel and order a replacement card.
Step 5: Cancel your travel card
Not a biggie. The worst thing that can happen is the thief gets a free train rid, but as a matter of principle I’d rather they get as little from me as possible!
You can easily get a new card issued and mailed to you, plus get the old (stolen) card’s balance transferred to a new card.
Step 6: Call the policy to report the incident
Initially, I thought the police would be great help, then realised that they have better things to do than search for a wallet.
So when you call them, it is just a formality to report the incident for your insurance. If you are lucky and they catch the thief, you may get your stuff back.
However don’t call 000, it’s not an emergency and your local police station will handle it.
In my case, I was able to get the $1100 credit card bill reimbursed. It was pretty easy to show they were fraudulent transactions, so the card company had to void the transactions. The thief made 13 transactions worth $80 to $95 each, in the space of 10 minutes!
But just in case the credit card companies don’t side with you, it’s better to be safe and protect your money the best way possible.