Opening the Doors to Healthier and Stress-Free Living
A Column by Alice Abbott-Moore,
Content Access/Information Delivery Teams, Ekstrom Library
According to an article in a recent issue of The Courier-Journal, "The Lost Wallet Blues," by Bill Wolfe, purse theft is on the rise in Louisville. Also, as the fall semester begins at the University of Louisville, purse and wallet thieves may be lurking about. Victims of theft tend to be women who carry their purses in shopping carts, leaving the carts unattended while going to the next aisle. Thieves can snatch purses and wallets in less than ten seconds—only a small distraction is needed. Within minutes after such thefts the following things tend to happen: credit cards are charged with expensive merchandise; checks are forged; and, video cards and library cards are misused to steal tapes and books.
The average American tends to carry eight credit cards. Loss of these cards cause trouble if a purse or wallet is stolen. Take a few minutes now to organize your wallet or purse. If down the road your wallet or purse is stolen, you will have to spend less time and heartache.
To cut your losses:
When you first realize that your wallet or purse is missing, be sure to:
- Carry fewer ATM or credit cards. Go through your wallet to see what you really need to carry everyday. Do you really need to carry two or three MasterCards, more than one Visa, and rarely used department store cards?
- Don't carry passwords or PIN numbers in your wallet.
- Don't carry your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport unless absolutely necessary.
- When you receive a new credit card, sign it and destroy the old one immediately.
- Never leave your purse or wallet unattended.
- Know the number of the last check you have written.
- If you help a relative with his/her finances, do not carry his/her cards or checkbooks with you.
- Call and report missing ATM and credit cards; most banks have a 24-hour phone number to call when dealing with such problems. If you are not sure what the number is, check your last monthly statement. If you notify the company before the cards can be misused, the Federal Fair Credit Billing Act says you can't be held responsible for any unauthorized charges. If a thief uses your cards before you can report them missing, the most you will owe for unauthorized charges is $50.00 per card. Do not be tempted to wait a day to see if your wallet turns up. If there is a chance that your cards may be in the wrong hands, cancel.
- Cancel any library or video cards that are missing. On such accounts, cardholders are liable for anything borrowed on their accounts.
- If your checks are stolen, there are two things you can do: Close the account and reopen with a new account or void the checks that were stolen. If you know the number of the last check written, the bank can void the remainder in that particular book of checks. Be sure to check with the bank to see which option would be best to prevent the invalidation of good checks.
- If your driver's license is stolen contact the county Clerk's office ass soon as possible. You will need to have a license to drive plus a record that your original license was stolen. Thieves with stolen driver's licenses can leave a trail of traffic tickets and bad debts. When you replace a stolen or missing license bring two documents that can help identify you, such as your Social Security card, marriage license, birth certificate, or passport.
- If you lost items such as jewelry or a cellular phone, contact your insurance agent to see if they were covered against theft. Do check to see if your losses significantly exceed your deductible on your policy. Claiming the loss may not be worth the risk of raising your premiums.
Source: Wolfe, Bill. "The Lost Wallet Blues", The Courier-Journal, Section C, Money, Monday, August 23, 1999.