Not Martha

losing it in Renton

Gah, it appears my wallet was lost (stolen) yesterday. (Probably stolen, though that possibility makes my skin crawl because whoever stole it was very, very close to me as I barely took the purse from my shoulder while I was in that grocery store.) So, please excuse me while I spend the day replacing cards, looking into getting a new drivers license and having a quiet hissy fit why-me freak out.

I’m consulting past questions on Ask Metafilter and other places, but if anybody has any advice for things I might not think of to do in the situation of having all my small but important pieces of plastic stolen, I’d be grateful to hear it.

· comments [45] · 07-3-2007 · categories:mumbling ·

45 responses so far ↓

  • 1 becky // Jul 3, 2007 at 7:00 am

    I’d contact the credit bureaus and let them know that you’ve had all those important pieces of plastic stolen (I think it is a fraud alert flag?) Also, some health insurance cards include SSN, another reason to have a fraud alert on your credit report.

    If your library card was in there, call the library (if you have one card for both King County and Seattle Public, you’ll want to call both, I don’t think their systems are linked) and have them put a note in your record. That way no one can use your card before you go in to replace it. Ditto for video store.

  • 2 Juggling Frogs // Jul 3, 2007 at 7:08 am

    No advice here, just sympathy.

    I had my wallet and car keys stolen seven years ago from inside my house. The hardest parts were deciding whether to replace the computerized car keys, and the closing of my bank account, which had accumulated automatic bank transfers like so many cobwebs.

    I’m sorry you have to deal with this. I hope it all goes as smoothly and quickly as possible.

  • 3 Heather // Jul 3, 2007 at 7:12 am

    If you had movie rental cards, don’t forget to contact the places you have them, bad people like to make sure you rack up debt in unsuspecting places. Sorry you had your wallet stolen, but glad you found out quickly.

    I hope it wasn’t your favorite/most expensive wallet ever!

  • 4 James // Jul 3, 2007 at 7:16 am

    Check this link:

    It’s more for identity theft, but I think a lot of it will be applicable.

  • 5 Blubberfatality // Jul 3, 2007 at 7:29 am

    Argh!! Stupid Renton…BTW, Renton has a bad smell and the worst Walmart I’ve ever HAD to set foot in!!!

    Hope all your cancelation phonecalls go quickly!!!

    PS: Thanks for your interesting take on the world..I am a first time commentor(sp?) but a long time reader!!!

  • 6 Jennifer // Jul 3, 2007 at 7:40 am

    Man, that’s really awful, but a lesson to us all, I suppose. The above posters have really given some good advice. One suggestion that I have was actually learned through hurricane preparation one year, and that is to burn a copy of all your important documentation (like credit cards) on to a CD. That might be nice in the future to have all of your documentation in one easily accessible place….

  • 7 Kelly // Jul 3, 2007 at 7:51 am

    Been there. Hate that. Good advice above. Mine is: treat yourself to a nice new wallet and but yourself a gift to get over that icky-creepy violated feeling. A wallet is in someways a small theft and in some ways a big one because it is so much personal stuff in one place.

    Also – sometimes people just take the cash and ditch the wallet so you could check trash cans close to where it went missing.

  • 8 minnie // Jul 3, 2007 at 7:58 am

    Well, you used it when you paid at the grocery store, and then you left? So it went missing in a very quick amount of time…hmmm
    Did you check the lost and found at the store?

  • 9 ben c // Jul 3, 2007 at 8:05 am

    That blows, Megan. Curséd Renton!

  • 10 beth r // Jul 3, 2007 at 8:11 am

    i think you’re supposed to contact the holy trinity: equifax

  • 11 beth r // Jul 3, 2007 at 8:12 am


    …transunion, and experian.

  • 12 leslie // Jul 3, 2007 at 8:40 am

    This isn’t much good now, but once you’ve replaced everything, pull together a spreadsheet itemizing all the ID you carry with you on a regular basis, the 1-800 numbers to call when/if they go missing, the addresses and/or websites you need to reapply and the expiry dates. Sort the spreadsheet by this last field, and make a note in your agenda to remind yourself to update the sheet when a piece of ID expires.

    My sincerest sympathies for this; it really does feel like someone has stolen a part of your life, doesn’t it? You might want to take the time for a rethink: do you REALLY need ALL those cards? Can you trim down a bit? Could you pull together a “secondary” batch of cards, maybe in its own plastic card-holder, that you would only take with you on certain occasions? You probably don’t need your Social Security Number when you’re just whipping out to buy some milk.

    This is pretty Canada-specific, but the Ontario Provincial Government has a good listing under “Life Events: Lost Wallet”; worth a peek.!ut/p/.cmd/cs/.ce/7_0_A/.s/7_0_252/_s.7_0_A/7_0_252/_l/en?docid=004418

  • 13 Kim // Jul 3, 2007 at 8:48 am

    Major sympathies. My checkbook was stolen 6 years ago. All the advice so far sounds good. For checks, I don’t print my address (or license) on checks anymore. If a merchant won’t take my check, I use another means to pay.

  • 14 megan // Jul 3, 2007 at 9:03 am

    Thanks everyone, I appreciate the tips and the sympathy. I keep my wallet really light so two hours after it was missing I was able to have all the cards canceled or blocked. Luckily nothing with my SSN was in the wallet, but I’m going to do all the contacting of credit agencies today. I already have a replacement license. The wallet itself, while nice, was an el-cheapo one from Forever 21.

    The wallet went missing somewhere between leaving Bed Bath and Beyond (where I returned something) and the time I arrived at the grocery store check out. Oh yes, besides just having a missing wallet freak out I also had a cart full of groceries I couldn’t pay for, fun! The thing is, the store was pretty empty and I cannot recall a time when somebody could have come close enough to lift the wallet from my bag on my shoulder, and that is assuming I left the bag unzipped. There is a possibility I dropped it and it hasn’t turned up yet. Best case scenario involves somebody taking the whole $12 in cash and dumping the wallet in a trash can.

    Yesterday I phoned the last few places I was at, as well as revisiting the stores and looking in the parking lot and (as far as I dared) the trash. Believe me, all efforts have been made.

  • 15 Kristin // Jul 3, 2007 at 9:06 am

    doesn’t help much now (i.e. after it was lost) but I photocopy the front and back of all my cards and keep it in a safe place. I might take to scanning them and keeping an electronic copy (which I back up), but I haven’t gotten that sophisticated.

  • 16 Sharyn // Jul 3, 2007 at 9:08 am

    I’m so sorry that happened to you. I’ve been there and done that, and don’t have any advice that hasn’t already been given. I know it’s not particularly helpful, but just general advice for the board: don’t keep you social security card in your wallet. It says specifically, on the card, to keep it in a safe place (not in your wallet). I keep mine in a home safe. And if you’re married and changed your name, I know it says to return your SS card, but don’t – or at least get a photo copy of your old one. That way if you have accounts in your old name you have proof other than a marriage license of what your former name was (since my wallet was stolen during our honeymoon, I had a superplusfun time of getting my accounts taken care of with a different name!)

    Good luck getting it all taken care of. Have a friend take you out for cocktails and try not to be too upset – it happens to the best of us.

  • 17 Wende // Jul 3, 2007 at 9:27 am

    I’m so sorry for the loss–it’s a terrible feeling!

    I don’t have advice on what to replace–but a tip for the future. I was recently in Costco when a lovely elderly woman came up to me and gave me this tip: If your pushing a cart, loop the child protective straps through the handles of your bag. Strap your purse in. That way, your bag stays closed and if someone attempts to take off with it, you’ll notice.

    I don’t know if it would have prevented your loss… but the tip is worth passing on! :D

  • 18 megan // Jul 3, 2007 at 9:56 am

    I want to say thanks to everybody who has written to advise keeping copies (photocopy or scans) of the cards filed away. I have photocopies of everything, but when the cards are lost or stolen it doesn’t help much beyond having a phone number to call to cancel the cards.

    I want to second Wende – Don’t keep your social security card in your wallet, keep it in a safe. Right now I’m very, very glad I’ve kept mine filed away in a secure place.

  • 19 chichimama // Jul 3, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Get a police report. A hassle, I know. But my wallet was stolen once, and then a year (I kid you not) a year later someone actually started opening up accounts in my name. I actually had a police report because it had been stolen at work and they made me do one, and it saved my thousands and thousands of dollars and months of hassle in the identity theft department. THey kept telling me that if I hadn’t had the police report it would have been very hard to deal with…

  • 20 whitney // Jul 3, 2007 at 10:16 am

    I’m so sorry. :(

    My Mom just had her wallet and calendar stolen out of her bag while she was on a crowded bus. Not only did she have to cancel and replace all the cards in her wallet, she had to call and figure out when all her doctor and dentist appointments were.

    She’s now been reminding me to never leave my purse on the back of a chair in restaurants. Apparently it’s best to put it between your feet on the floor. Kind of a pain, but it makes it a lot harder for a thief to get to it.

  • 21 megan // Jul 3, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Chichimama – Thanks for prompting me to do that, I have filed a report. Upon looking into filing a report I kept getting confused as to if I needed to file a report for “identity theft” if I had stopped all my cards before they could be used. But, I got a nice person on the phone and have filed a theft report, I’m happy to say the online report I filled out was very comprehensive. Hopefully this will save me trouble if something comes up in the future!

  • 22 fillyjonk // Jul 3, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Actually, with the newer photocopiers, you might want to rethink whether you copy your cards or not.

    I’ve read that some of the newer copiers have a chip that stores the last however-many images on it…so presumably an unscrupulous person could get the image of your credit cards from, say, a library copier.

    My sympathies on the lost wallet. I’ve lost keys, and that’s a pain to deal with, but not as bad as the missing credit-card-driver’s-license thing.

  • 23 Tina // Jul 3, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Photocopying your plastic is a good idea.
    I made a small pouch with 2 sections-
    one for cash and one for plastic,
    I hang it around my neck with a piece of cord.
    It hides under my shirt until I am at the checkout.
    I always keep my ID and keys in a separate place, because if kept together, the thief has your address AND the keys to your house.

    By the way, sorry about your wallet-that really sucks.

  • 24 kate // Jul 3, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    File for a fraud alert with the DMV, too– anyone who tries to use your license number for anything will raise a red flag and the vendor will have to call a fraud line to get authorization.

    My fiance had an identity theft problem recently, and it was because of this and other fraud alerts that he found out about it, right before the paperwork for the brand new Chrysler the thief had “bought” was filed under my fiance’s name!

  • 25 Pieces // Jul 3, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    Renton is just bad mojo, I think. My sister lives there and has had two cars broken into, a wallet and two purses stolen. All within a year. It is creepy to think someone may have just taken it out of your bag.

  • 26 Cindi // Jul 3, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Ugh, that happened to me twice in the past two years. One thing I learned is not to sign the back of my credit cards but instead write (with a sharpie lasts longer) “Ask for picture ID.” Only about half of clerks ask for it, but it will prevent the thief from using your cards in those cases unless they look just like you.

  • 27 becky // Jul 3, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    two things:
    1. if you only have “ask for picture ID” on the back of your card a) some businesses won’t take it and b) nothing is preventing a thief from creating a fake ID with your name and their signature.

    2. i can’t imagine a library having the spare $$ for a photocopier with a memory chip. what we look for is durability infrequent paper jams. (now of course, i’ll find out that the library where i work has one…)

  • 28 Emy // Jul 3, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Cindi – I’m pretty sure that technically, your card’s not actually valid unless it is signed. Merchants can actually refuse to take a credit card that’s not been signed by the owner.

  • 29 Abby // Jul 3, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Ditto on this:

    If your pushing a cart, loop the child protective straps through the handles of your bag. Strap your purse in. That way, your bag stays closed and if someone attempts to take off with it, you’ll notice.

    My mom taught me to do this years ago – and I do it everywhere I can.

    I’ve had my day planner stolen before, and it had paycheck and credit card stubs in it, so I’m with you on the pain. Just keep an eye on your bank accounts. Maybe pull your credit report in a few days or a week? That would put my mind a little more at ease, anyway.

  • 30 Abby // Jul 3, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    AND … I also put Please Check ID on the back of all my cards and have for a couple of years. I’ve had no problem, and they always ask for ID that way.

  • 31 Cindi // Jul 3, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Technically, it is, but no one who has bothered to look at my card has ever refused it on those grounds in the past two years. You can also sign it AND write Please ask for picture ID.

  • 32 Okwes // Jul 3, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Nothing makes the color drain from your face like this! Much sympathies! Hope all goes well.

    After this happened to me, I got a wallet chain and i chain my wallet to the purse. Sure it’s a little unsightly, but it helps!

  • 33 Kim // Jul 3, 2007 at 2:03 pm


    I didn’t take the time to read all of the replies so I don’t know if this was mentioned or not. This happened to me once, and my credit card company told me to contact the police just to get them to file a report so if anything does come up you will have proof. Especially, if you think it might have been stolen. You can probably just go to the local department instead of calling them and getting them to send someone out.

  • 34 megan // Jul 3, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    It’s been just about 24 hours and I’m happy to report that everything is taken care of, I even have a replacement drivers license. Apparently all the industries are set up to handle this sort of thing very efficiently, if only it was so easy to change my address or ask a simple question of the same companies when nothing has been stolen.

  • 35 arasaig // Jul 3, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    When this happened to me I ended up filing a police report to collect the insurance on my phone and good thing I did. The cops showed up two weeks later at 12:30 am, and surrounded my house fully armed. The person had been making fake payroll checks and cashing them using my id. They recovered my license after the woman got into a tussel with a cashier, but she escaped, and they came to the address on the license. No, they didn’t check anything before they woke up the whole neighborhood, and I think the only reason I didnt get arrested that night was because I had a copy of the report.

  • 36 deborah // Jul 3, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    sorry about this, i know the feeling, its happened to me before. make sure you cancel library cards and video store cards – thieves like to read and watch movies too {you know, in between jobs} … and if they are the kind that don’t return things {i’m guessing they are} you’ll be stuck with lots of fines some day – even worse!

  • 37 monica // Jul 3, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    No new advice about who to contact, just a geeky way to keep it in one place: in my computer ‘s address book (I use Mac’s “Address Book”), I made separate contacts for each credit card company, each bank, the DMV, the Social Security Administration and the 3 credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian). Each has the contact 1-800 number and what to do (in notes: “cancel card” “ask for fraud alert on name/account”). Then I put them all into a group called “lost wallet” — super nerdy!

    Someone sent me the list a while back and I thought that would be a good way to organize it. Reading comments though, I’m going to add the library and my health insurance info too.

    And, so sorry. It totally sucks.

  • 38 wendee // Jul 3, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    I’m glad you filed the police report. A long time ago my wallet was stolen out of my break room at work – not by a fellow employee – I’m positive, but by someone who snuck back into the room when were were extremely busy (just a few days before Christmas). My credit card was used at Nordstroms (despite the “check ID” AND signature I had on the back) and they went through the drive through at the bank to cash both my paycheck and my quarterly bonus check. They just passed my ID through the little capsule and the teller just passed them back over $2000 in cash. Nice, huh. (Fortunately I was reimbursed by my company). I had no money in my wallet – seriously, less than a dollar. And in terms of cards, etc., just my DL, debit card, one credit card and sadly my full Taco Del Mar card. I was lucky and it didn’t take long to do damage control. However, like Chichimama and arasaig, the thieves used my ID to cash other checks they had stolen – they made them out to me and then cashed them. This was in the days before cell phones and I had business owners calling my house yelling at me and telling me I “wouldn’t get away with this!” Fortunately I was able to tell them to PLEASE call the police – and leave me alone. What a drag!

  • 39 GailM // Jul 3, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    Sounds like you’ve got a good handle on everything. I worked in customer service for a TV retailer for a few years. If you have your cards on file with any of these type companies you may want to update their accounts with the new information. I talked to a lot of people who over looked these type of accounts when they were replacing their card info. It’s not life threatening, but the delays for reprocessing orders can be inconvenient.

  • 40 GiGi // Jul 3, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    My two cents: Be aware that filing an identity theft report is a double-edged sword. 6 years later and my daughter still hassles with the DMV about the red flag she put on her license for ID theft…At renewal, they insist on all types of ID, birth certs, recent power bill, etc. to prove she is the TRUE license holder at that address… Next they’ll want her first-born. She was told it cannot be removed (the red flag, not her first- born!)…an eternal reminder to keep her license safe.

  • 41 Tara // Jul 4, 2007 at 4:57 am

    I second the comments that say you need to sign the back of your credit card — it is not valid without a signature, so “check ID” doesn’t suffice. Where I work, we refuse to process any credit cards that aren’t signed, per the vendor’s agreement we have with Visa and MasterCard.

  • 42 Aku // Jul 4, 2007 at 6:47 am

    Horrible coincidence: My BIKE got stolen yesterday.

  • 43 Stacey // Jul 4, 2007 at 9:19 am

    My recommendation is cancel your library card if you have one. My wallet was stolen and I cancelled all the credit, debit, checking, etc…but never thought about the library card. Four years later I went to check out a book and was told that I owed $50 for the “Dragons and Lore” book that I checked out and never returned!! Those damn theives…when did they become literate?!

  • 44 Alison // Jul 4, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Glad to hear that things have been taken care of. I’ve had mixed results with writing “See ID” on the back of my credit card. Probably less than 50% of places actually ask for the ID, and I get strange looks if I hand over both the ID and the credit card. The Post Office is the only place I’ve been that refused to take the card because it wasn’t signed.

    I’m actually in the process of signing up for a card that has my photo on the front. I’m hoping that will be slightly more effective, but we’ll see.

  • 45 rhembein // Jul 8, 2007 at 10:32 am

    oh gosh! sorry! What a creepy feeling that someone would do that to you. I guess you have to look at it from a different point of view to try and put it in perspective… at least you are not in such a state in your life, that you needed to be that person. That would be sad too.

    I hope you can find another great wallet!

    And bugger about having to get all that stuff replaced. :( What a pain.


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