5 Steps to Stop Lost Wallet Identity Theft

How to Protect Your Lost Wallet or Purse against Identity Theft

In a panic that your lost wallet or stolen purse might lead to identity theft?  Take a deep breath and then take the First 5 Steps to Stop ID theft. First, you need to understand that a lost wallet or purse is one of the most concentrated sources of identifying documents. For now, assume that your lost or stolen wallet or purse will be used to exploit your identity. Sometimes, even when your missing item shows up unexpectedly, the damage has already been done by a clever thief who is simply returning your valuables so that you don’t suspect further theft and shut down your accounts. Don’t take any changes. Instead, take these first five steps (adapted from my Identity Theft Recovery Guide):

1. Inventory Your Lost Wallet or Stolen Purse from Memory

Want us to walk you through the entire recovery process with quick videos, easy forms and expert advice as you go? Click on the Recovery Guide and get started before your wealth evaporates.

The first step is to identify exactly what was in your purse or wallet.  If you haven’t photocopied everything, start making a list and add to it over the next few days as you remember more.  Here are some of the highest risk items:

Checks/checkbook*, Cell phone or smartphone, Keys, garage openers, Credit cards, debit cards, ATM cards, Drivers license, Student ID cards, Military ID cards, Medical ID cards, Auto insurance, Social Security card*, Loyalty cards, Bills to pay, Passport*, Library cards, Birth Certificates, Receipts, Passwords, PINs*, Child/Parent InfoWork ID…

* You should NEVER carry these items with you unless absolutely necessary for a certain occasion.

2. Make Immediate Calls & Log Conversations

The next step is to make calls regarding missing items and keep a log of all correspondence. The sooner you properly shut down these accounts, the less you will lose. (See Video or Identity Theft Recovery Guide)

3. Protect the Sensitive Data on Your Mobile Devices 

If you have taken any preventive steps to protect your mobile device, such as remote tracking and wiping, don’t hesitate to remotely erase your mobile device. It is a digital treasure trove of personal identifying information. If you haven’t already implemented remote tracking and wiping on your cellphone, do so now. (Step 4)

4. Change Passwords on Affected Online Accounts

If you carried any information regarding your online accounts in your lost wallet or bag (especially on a smartphone or tablet that was stolen too), immediately change passwords on all relevant online accounts. A single mobile phone can have multiple logins for banks, investment brokers and numerous financial institutions. I highly recommend utilizing a password protection software to encrypt and protect your numerous passwords.(Step 5)

5. File a Police Report

In order to draw a line in the sand (any crimes committed in your name or money taken out of your accounts that happens after the police report are easier to defend, should it be required.) As discussed in the Guide, filing a police report can be difficult, so attempt to submit it online before trying in person. (Step 8)

In total, there are 31 unique steps for you to consider during the recovery process, including filing victim and police reports, locking criminals out of your credit, taxes and medical benefits, as well as defending your online accounts, children’s identity and safeguarding your financial investments.

John Sileo is the award-winning author of four books on identity theft, including The Identity Theft Recovery Guide. John delivers keynote speeches to conferences and companies that don’t want to end up as the next data breach headline. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Visa and Homeland Security. Watch John keynotingon Rachael Rayor through the eyes of his clients.




Do you know that panicked feeling, sweaty-hot pins and needles…

when you realize that you’ve lost your wallet or mobile phone? Gone are your credit and debit cards, driver’s license and maybe even checks or a Social Security card. Your phone might house addresses and phone numbers for your loved ones, passwords and logins for your financial accounts, and even access to your email program (allowing someone else to email as you, let alone make calls as you). While the wallet might contain cash and the mobile phone is expensive, they are worth virtually nothing compared to the value of the sensitive (and sellable) data they contain.

Or maybe you received a letter from a company (like Target), warning that your private information was hacked in a data breach. No matter how you discover it, identity theft is disturbing enough to cause sleepless nights and powerful enough to consume most of your wealth (as it did mine – watch the video).  More than 200 million records were breached last year alone, accounting for an average of one data-loss incident per American adultA new identity theft victim is hit EVERY TWO SECONDS and the number of yearly victims has risen to 13.1 million*, which signifies substantial growth in what has been America’s fastest growing crime for the past 10 years. 

You get the point – lost wallets, stolen purses, missing mobile phones and laptops, devious dumpster divers and hacked databases all add up to a desperate need for comprehensive identity theft recovery. So here’s the big secret: to be effective, ID theft recovery has to be started immediately and must take place in a very specific order.

The Identity Theft Recovery Steps you take today could change your life…

The problem with most advice on identity theft recovery is that it is given out of order, using flawed procedures. Some “experts” tell you to file a police report first, all while the thief continues to cash out your accounts. Or they have you freeze your credit before you have expunged fraudulent accounts, making it nearly impossible to repair your credit history. Order matters. Speed matters. And the method by which you dispute fraud makes all the difference in the world to how fully and quickly you recover. Here are the first 3 steps you should take (excerpts from the complete Identity Theft Recovery Guide) if you feel that you are a victim of identity theft (e.g., lost or stolen wallet, mobile phone, tablet, laptop, violated garbage containers, burgled home, etc.):

1. Don’t Panic.

You want to proceed quickly, not irrationally. The tendency to begin taking steps before you have catalogued what is missing will lead to mistakes down the road. Take a deep breath, come to terms with the fact that you are in for a good deal of work, and believe in your ability to recover from this. Your first step is to take an inventory of every missing item including physical assets (wallets, laptops, etc.), digital assets (mobile phones, electronic files, USB drives, etc.) and online assets (logins and passwords). This will serve as a checklist of risk areas that need to be solved over the coming days. In less than 48 hours, you will begin to forget the items that were lost or stolen, so don’t waste time. Until you understand what is missing, it’s hard to know where to begin. Here is a sample inventory of frequently stolen items:

  • Social Security cards, statements or related documents
  • Birth certificates, death certificates, passports and drivers licenses
  • Wallets, purses, computer bags as well as the contents of those items
  • Checkbooks, contact lists, passwords, files, folders and boxes of extra checks
  • All financial records, including bank, brokerage, mortgage, credit card, and insurance
  • All digital devices containing sensitive information, including laptops, computers, cell phones, tablets, USB drives…
  • Digital files, including passwords, tax documents, contact lists and work-related assets
  • Any compromised internet logins, including social media, banking, brokerage and e-commerce sites

2. Start an Identity Theft Recovery Log. 

Over the next couple of weeks, tracking what you do is going to be important. As you take the following steps, you should keep a log of every step you have taken, with whom you spoke, the date and time of your conversation and the results of your call. This log of contacts will become part of your recovery dossier and will help you prove your financial, civil and criminal innocence, should they be questioned. I recommend that you complete and log the first seven steps in the Guide within 24 hours of detection or potential theft to draw a virtual line in the sand that establishes a fraud “born on” date. This makes it easier to prove your innocence in regard to fraudulent transactions completed after that date. See a sample log from the Guide, above.

3. Deactivate the Affected Accounts.

The quickest way to minimize ID theft damage is to quickly deactivate any affected accounts – financial or otherwise. If there is a specific account involved that you feel has been violated, shut that account down first (or at least change the account number). For example, if your credit card has been stolen, alert that specific credit card company and deactivate the affected card. Some experts warn you not to cancel the card as it might make it more difficult to track the crime. From experience, your crime will never even be investigated, let alone solved, so protect yourself and change or cancel the account. If it is a bank or brokerage account, have them suspend all capabilities on the account until you notify them of next steps. For credit cards, under federal law, you are only responsible for a maximum of $50 if you report the fraudulent charges immediately. Debit cards have higher liabilities and the money will be absent from your account while you prove that you didn’t make the withdrawal. Further deactivation steps are discussed in the Guide.

In total, there are 31 unique steps for you to consider during the recovery process, including filing victim and police reports, locking criminals out of your credit, taxes and medical benefits, as well as defending your online accounts, children’s identity and safeguarding your financial investments.

Identity Theft Recovery GuideFor a highly detailed, step-by-step recovery process, I’ve created a complete system to walk you through every step of the process, titled the Identity Theft Recovery Guide. The Guide includes prioritized checklists, forms, links, phone numbers and videos to walk you quickly through the entire process of recovering your identity.

Learn more about my comprehensive system for protecting your wealth, good name and peace of mind by clicking on the link below. The sooner you start, the less you will lose.

Click for More Information

John Sileo is the award-winning author of four books on identity theft, social media privacy and mobile technology, including The Identity Theft Recovery Guide.. John delivers keynote speeches to conferences and companies that don’t want to end up as the next data breach headline. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Visa and Homeland Security. Watch John keynoting, on Rachael Ray, or through the eyes of his clients.


*Javelin Strategy & Research Identity Fraud Report, February, 2014.

Identity Theft: Don't Fool Me Once and Definitely Don't Fool Me Twice

Too often we hear about what steps people should take after they have been victims of identity theft and fraud. That’s like telling a batter to wear a helmet after he’s been hit in the head by a baseball.

In a recent news report from a local Fox affiliate in Florida, Jackson Hewitt tax preparer Jessica Douglas said she constantly sees instances of fraud when people come to her to file their returns. Many of these individuals don’t even realize that they have been victimized until months later when they’re sitting at her desk and are blindsided with the news. The Internal Revenue Service sends back a rejection notice, which signifies that someone else has already used your Social Security number to file a return.

Now, Douglas says the IRS will give you a personal identification number that supposedly makes it more difficult for villainous types to steal your identity. But, once again, the catch is that you have to have already been victimized once before you can get a PIN.

Rather than relying on after-the-fact “fixes” that are the equivalent of putting band-aids on bullet wounds, we need to focus on preventative measures that one can take to avoid being an identity theft victim in the first place. After all, if you aren’t taken by fraudsters once, you can’t be taken by them twice. Hence, there’s no need for a PIN.

For starters, everyone should know their Social Security number by heart, and no one should carry their Social Security card in their wallet or purse. If it falls into the wrong hands, it’s like handing over the combination to a safe that holds all your most treasured valuables.

Maintaining detailed financial records and periodically checking your credit report are also very useful identity theft prevention tools.

John Sileo is an identity theft prevention expert, the award-winning author of the ID theft prevention book, Privacy Means Profit, and a keynote speaker on social media privacy, identity theft and fraud. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent work on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.

Identity Theft's Latest Victim? Your Business.


Latest Identity Theft Trend is Stealing Your Business’s Identity to Falsify Accounts

In the past two weeks, I have been contacted separately by two local business owners to share how their business identity has been stolen and used to set up accounts with various companies on which thousands of dollars are charged and they (the actual owners) are left to pay the bills. There are no identity theft statistics on this type of crime, but I am certain that it is just coming onto the trend radar. In further proof that this is becoming a major problem for corporations, the Denver Post ran an article this morning titled “Corporate ID Thieves Mining the Store“.

Here’s how this incredibly easy form of business identity theft works:

  1. A thief scours the internet for your company information (Facebook is usually a good place to start, as is your local Secretary of State’s website). They are particularly interested in bids for government contracts, as they often contain a sample of your letterhead as well as your pertinent business information. If they can obtain the Federal ID# of your businesses, they have even more ammo to defraud you.
  2. Business name in hand, the thief logs on to your local Secretary of State’s website (the agency generally responsible for registering corporations and maintaining databases on corporations) and pays a small fee ($10) to alter the name of a corporate officer or the address of a company’s registered agent on public records. I would imagine that they generally register an identity stolen from another individual in order to cover their tracks further. In most states, there is no password to protect your official business filings from unauthorized users and changes. In Colorado, according to the Denver Post article mentioned above, officials say that “putting password protection on corporate data — where only a business owner or representative can make changes — is prohibitively expensive.”

    “In other words, the State of Colorado provides less protection for your corporate data than the average online dating service.”

  3. Now that the imposter is a “corporate officer” of your business with full authority to act on behalf of your corporation, the thief applies for a credit account in your business’s name, generally at a large national retailer (Home Depot, Lowes, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon see to be the top choices). If necessary, they use your poached letterhead to facilitate the process of setting up the account.
  4. The retailer, before extending credit, verifies with Dun & Bradstreet that you are in fact an official officer of the corporation. And where does Dun & Bradstreet get its information about your business? From the Secretary of State’s office, the very source of your illegally modified information. In other words, all parties in the process are relying upon falsified source data that remains unprotected on government websites.
  5. Using the newly established business account with terms (i.e., the thief doesn’t have to pay for what they buy, it is invoiced to the company for payment at a later date), the thief makes large purchase of equipment of services, often worth tens of thousands of dollars.
  6. Equipment in hand, the thief leaves the store never to be seen again. Your business, of course, receives the bill, and begins the arduous, time consuming and expensive process of proving that you never made the purchase, a difficult task given that the account was established by what the retailer considers to be a legitimate officer of your corporation.

Far fetched? Not at all. The problem is compounded by the fact that sales associates at many national retailers receive incentive bonuses for every sale they make. Why wouldn’t they push the sale of 50 mobile phones through the system when they receive a large commission to do so. It’s much easier than selling one handset at a time.

Both actual cases I worked with involved phone companies, and each business owner has struggled desperately to prove that they did not make the purchase and do not owe on the account. In one of the cases, the business in question already had an account established with the phone company – same company name, address, phone number, etc. – and the phone company failed to ask any questions as to why they would want a second account. In many of the cases, the thieves use the same stolen business identity over and over again in different cities (rarely do they even shop in your actual city), causing the owner untold hours of time repairing their damaged Dun & Bradstreet ratings, fighting with collection agencies and sitting on hold trying to explain to large corporations that don’t have any incentive to believe what you are saying.

In a spiraling economy, taking your eye off the ball can mean you lose the game. In the meantime, you can take these steps to being affecting change and protecting your valuable business data:

  1. Contact your local Secretary of State’s Office and encourage them to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. You just might be the first person to let them know that this problem exists. At minimum, ask them to begin protecting your corporate data with a password that only the verified and legitimate corporate officers of your corporation can access.
  2. Review your corporate filing with the Secretary of State’s Office regularly to make sure that there is no altered or false information in their database. If there is, contact them immediately.
  3. While in your corporations’ listing on the Secretary of State’s website, make sure that you set up any security measures they have provided. For example, if they have email alerts anytime your profile changes, make sure you take them up on it and have a current email address in the profile. This will send you an alert anytime someone changes your file.
  4. Monitor your Dun & Bradstreet account regularly to make sure that no liens or encumbrances have been placed on your credit profile. If there is incorrect or unrecognizable data on your report, contact D&B’s fraud department immediately at 1.800.234.3867.
  5. Set up a Google Alert for your corporation’s official name, TIN and any DBAs to monitor unexpected internet activity on behalf of your organization.
  6. If you are a contract-based vendor, include a clause in your contract prohibiting the publication of your TIN/EIN/SSN in any electronic or internet form without your prior written consent.
  7. Protect your TIN, letterhead and company information as if it were currency, because it is.

Check back over the next few days for information on how to recover from this crime if you are a victim.

John Sileo speaks professionally to organizations that wish to avoid the costs associated with identity theft, data breach, social media exposure and insider theft. His satisfied clients include the Department of Defense, Blue Cross Blue Shield, the FDIC, Pfizer and hundreds of corporations of all sizes. Learn more about his entertaining and effective presentations on identity theft, data breach and fraud training or contact him directly on 800.258.8076.