How to protect your money when you lose your wallet
Recently I lost my wallet. It was stolen with my phone. I sucks but I'll survive.
I've never lost my wallet before, so I didn't have a game plan on what to do.
I lost the cash in my wallet. But on top of that, another $1,100 had been burned through my credit cards!
Thinking through what I did, I realised that there was a better way to protect my money. It is all about reaction time. The quicker you discover you've lost it, the better. It is also about the steps you take when you discover you've lost it.
So here are my steps to protect your money when you lose your wallet (and phone).
Step 1: make a list of your credit cards
Forget about calling the police first. The first thing to do is to get organised and plan. Get pen & paper. Write down a list of everything in your wallet.
In particular, list out your credit cards. Especially list out card with PayPass, PayWave (or any contactless payment methods).
Step 2: call the credit card companies, starting with contactless cards first
From your list, find all the cards with contactless payment. Call those credit card companies first. Ask them to cancel your card.
You can also ask them to issue you a new / replacement card on the spot. This won't cost you anything.
Do this quickly! Do your thing and move to the next credit card company ASAP. Time is of the essence.
Extra tip: if you have a Commonwealth Bank card, you can call them last. Whilst on the phone to your other cards, login to NetBank and you can cancel the card online there. This is the most efficient use of your time waiting for the phone operators.
Here is a list of the popular credit card companies you can call:
- ANZ: 1800 033 844
- Citibank: 13 24 84
- Commonwealth Bank: 13 22 21
- NAB: 1800 033 103
- Westpac: 1300 130 961
Step 3: Call your mobile phone company
Most of us will have some sort of banking app on our phones. It's unlikely that the thief can hack into your app with password protection. But you want to ensure that they cannot steal all of your savings from the app.
Instead of calling the banks one by one, call you phone company to do a master lock on your phone. Tell Telstra/Optus/Vodafone that you lost your phone and request a lock on the phone.
This lock requires a special code to unlock. A code that you can only get from the phone company. One call and your phone will be impenetrable from the thief!
Step 4: Call other banks where you have an account
I also had a keycard in my wallet that I use to draw money from the ATM. Compared to credit cards, I think this is harder to hack money from the keycard. I'd call them next and get that card cancelled. Get a replacement sent to you as well.
Step 5: For Sydneysiders, cancel your Opal
Not a biggie. The worst thing that can happen is the thief get a free ride on PT. But I'd rather they get as little from stealing from me as possible!
Head to www.opal.com.au to cancel your card. You can easily get a new card issued and mailed to you. Plus get the old (stolen) card's balance transferred to a new card.
Step 6: Call the policy to report the incident
Initially, I thought the police would be great help. Then realised that they have better things to do then search for a wallet.
So when you call them, it is just a formality to report an incident for your insurance. If you are lucky and they catch the thief, you may get your stuff back.
In NSW, the number to call is: 131 444
Don't call 000, it's not an emergency and your local police station will divert you to that number.
From my experience, I was able to get the $1,100 credit card bill taken off my cards. It was pretty easy to show they were fraudulent transactions, so the card company had to void the transactions. The thief did 13 transactions worth $80 - $95 per hit, in the space of 10 minutes!
But I rather be safe and protect your money the best way possible. Just in case the credit card companies don't side with you.
I hope this doesn't happen to you. But if it does, hope this can help you.