By Kawania H. Wooten CMP

Picture this. You are out and about networking and making deals on a business trip when you get a call from your bank. Someone is using your credit card to purchase those hot, new boots that everyone is coveting. That’s when you realize your wallet is missing.

It’s pretty easy to panic. (And, no one would blame you for that!) But, here’s the deal — Criminals are quick, so you are going to need to panic later and act quickly. And, here is what you should do —

  • The first thing you want to do is contact your bank(s) to cancel your debit card(s) and your credit card(s). If your checkbook was a part of your wallet, you should cancel your checks too. I would even recommend closing your bank account and opening a new one at a different bank. I know that sounds like a pain, but you don’t want the criminals to return to your bank months after the theft occurs attempting to steal from you a second time by withdrawing money from your account.
  • File a police report. You should file a police report for insurance purposes and/or in case your belongings are found. Additionally, the police report will be a valuable piece of paperwork if the criminals use your identification or credit cards to commit a crime.
  • Contact your airline to ensure you can board your flight home.  According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website, not having an ID doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be allowed to fly home. But, I recommend you contact your airline before your trip home to explain the incident. Also, arrive at the airport early to ensure you have ample time to explain your dilemma.  If the TSA officials are satisfied with your explanation and paperwork, they will work with the airline to provide you a boarding pass that notes you do not have identification in your possession.  If you are flying internationally, you will need to get a copy of your passport before you are able to leave the country. So, reach out to the US Embassy in the country you are visiting to schedule an emergency appointment.  The embassy should be able to assist you with replacing your passport.
  • Notify the hotel where you are staying.  Most criminals are only looking for quick access to cash, but you never know. So, stop by the front desk of your hotel to inform them of the theft in case someone tries to use your identification to gain access to your hotel room.
  • Notify the credit bureaus. Contact all three of the credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, to set up a fraud alert. And keep notes of your communication with them — You may have to refer back to these notes if your identity is compromised.

Best of luck!