This past weekend I took a road trip to Pennsylvania with friends and lost my wallet somewhere along the way. I didn’t even realize it was missing until we got to our destination.
When I searched for my wallet, which held the ID I needed to get onto the campus of my beloved alma mater, and couldn’t find it, the very first thing I did was go into full-blown panic mode.
My wallet contained pretty much everything: my debit cards, driver’s license and insurance card.
I was extremely overwhelmed on the inside, but was able to put some of the many tips and tricks I’ve learned as a wellness reporter into practice. I grounded myself with deep breaths and thought through my next steps.
And once I calmed down, I went into action to make sure that my money was safe.
3 steps I took right away to protect my finances when I lost my wallet
1. I froze all of my cards
Whether you lose just your credit card or you lose your entire wallet with credit, debit and everything in between, the very first thing you should do is lock your cards so no one else is able to use them.
I typically stay on top of my finances, so I was able to pull up my mobile banking apps right away and turn on the “lock card” feature.
This turned out to be a really important step for me because when someone did attempt to use my credit card the next day, my bank blocked the transaction and notified me immediately.
Your mobile banking app will also allow you to easily order a replacement card. Even if you do end up finding your wallet (spoiler alert: I did!), this is still a very important step to take to protect yourself.
2. I retraced my steps
I recalled visiting a Wawa about 30 minutes from my location in Pennsylvania, but my wallet wasn’t there.
I also visited a Starbucks along the way, but was pretty sure I left the store with my wallet, so I didn’t bother calling. It turns out that was a mistake because a couple of days later, they found me and they did indeed have my wallet.
A Starbucks employee called my bank, who then called me. Fortunately the location was just about an hour away from home and I was able to retrieve my wallet.
3. I used Apple Pay
I was in Pennsylvania for a weekend-long vacation and lost my wallet on day one.
So I had to figure out how to get the funds I’d need to pay for necessities like food. I couldn’t use my debit card that was linked to my Apple Pay because it was frozen and it needed to stay that way to keep my money safe.
But I learned you don’t actually have to have a bank card attached to your Apple Wallet to spend and receive money in the app.
In the true nature of a first-born-daughter, my oldest sister offered to loan me enough money to cover my trip and she was able to send it via Apple Pay.
And thanks to a recommendation from my mother that I keep a picture of some form of identification handy just in case, I was able to get into a 21+ event.
Of course, the best recommendation I can give is that you double-check your bag and pockets for your important belongings before you leave anywhere. I’ve also left my keys and my phone in Ubers before — so let’s just say I’m working on it!
But hopefully with these tools, you can turn any wallet-less trip into a good time.
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