Tips for Dealing With a Lost or Stolen Wallet

By: Staff Writer June 6, 2012
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After getting over the Oh-no! realization, you need to act. Not later today, not tomorrow, but now. The faster you respond, the better your chances of mitigating potential repercussions.

Prioritizing After Your Wallet is Lost or Stolen

Start by making a list of items lost. Prioritize the important, starting with debit and credit cards, followed by motor vehicle documents (drivers license, vehicle registration) and insurance verification. Now you're ready to act.

1. Notify Your Financial Institutions

First, call your banks and credit card issuers to cancel. Start with debit cards, which generally have less fraud protection than credit cards.

2. File a Police Report

Second, phone the police. Call even if you weren't carrying debit or credit cards. You want to report the lost license as protection against identity theft.

Request a copy of the police report, too.

3. Call the DMV

Third, contact your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You need to replace the lost or stolen driver's license as soon as possible. You could get a ticket if an officer stops you.

You will also, if applicable, need to replace your vehicle registration. But focus on your missing license first, for it doubles as your photo identification.

Depending on your DMV, you may have all or some of the following application options for ordering a duplicate license:

  • In person: All states offer this option. Some states make  applying in person is mandatory. Depending on your DMV, you may be able to leave the office with a new license. If not, you'll be issued a temporary one until your permanent drivers license arrives in the mail.
  • Online: This can be found on your DMV's website, complete with detailed instructions. A valid credit card is required.
  • Mail: Download an application from your DMV's website. Complete and then mail, along with a check, to the address located on the form.
  • Phone: If offered, an operator or recorded voice will guide you. Have a credit card on hand.
  • Kiosk: This replace license option is limited to a few states.

Sometimes, the DMV hands over replacement licenses right then (if you apply in person), but if the DMV needs to mail your replacement, make sure the agency has your most current mailing address on file. Check our page titled Replacing a Lost License for state specifics

Finally, call your car insurance provider and request a duplicate auto insurance card. In most states you must carry proof of vehicle insurance when driving.

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