Handling lost IDs and credit cards
We've all done it—left our wallet on the table at a restaurant or walked out of the library without our book bag. Sometimes we're lucky. We go back to the restaurant and find our wallet still at the table or we go to the library and find that the librarian has stashed our book bag behind the counter. But sometimes we aren't so lucky and our valuables are gone. What to do? This section outlines steps to take if your IDs have been lost or stolen.
Protecting your information
- Vow to keep very little in your wallet—just your driver's license, student ID, maybe one credit card, and a little bit of cash. If you do lose your wallet, it will be much easier to take steps to cancel one credit card or notify authorities about just a few items than if you carry numerous credit cards and personal information.
- Make photocopies of the cards and ID that you carry with you, and keep them in a safe place in your room.
- Keep records of all your credit card numbers and their toll-free customer service numbers, bank account numbers, bank branch phone numbers, Department of Motor Vehicle phone number, and any other agencies that you may need to contact if you lose your wallet. Keep these in a safe place in your room.
Replacing credit, debit, and ATM cards
Report the loss or theft of your credit cards and your ATM or debit cards to the card issuers as quickly as possible. Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with such emergencies. It's a good idea to follow-up your phone calls with letters. Include your account number, when you noticed your card was missing, and the date you first reported the loss.
Credit card loss or fraudulent charges.
Your maximum liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50. If you report the loss before your credit cards are used, the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized charges. If a thief uses your cards before you report them missing, the most you will owe for unauthorized charges is $50 per card. Also, if the loss involves your credit card number, but not the card itself, you have no liability for unauthorized use.
After the loss, review your billing statements carefully. If they show any unauthorized charges, send a letter to the card issuer describing each questionable charge. Again, tell the card issuer the date your card was lost or stolen, or when you first noticed unauthorized charges, and when you first reported the problem to them. Be sure to send the letter to the address provided for billing errors. Do not send it with a payment or to the address where you send your payments unless you are directed to do so.
ATM or debit card loss or fraudulent transfers.
If you report an ATM or debit card missing before it's used without your permission, the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized transfers. If unauthorized use occurs before you report it, your liability under federal law depends on how quickly you report the loss.
For example, if you report the loss within two business days after you realize your card is missing, you will not be responsible for more than $50 for unauthorized use. However, if you don't report the loss within two business days after you discover the loss, you could lose up to $500 because of an unauthorized transfer. If unauthorized transfers show up on your bank statement, report them to the card issuer as quickly as possible. Once you've reported the loss of your ATM or debit card, you cannot be held liable for additional unauthorized transfers that occur after that time.
Replacing your driver's license
If your driver's license has been lost or stolen, report the incident to your local police's non-emergency line (it is not necessary to call 911). This is especially important if the license has been lost or stolen as a result of a suspected crime. The local police will likely have forms you need to fill out to report the incident. Be sure to get a copy of the report.
To find out the procedures for getting a replacement license, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles for the state that issued your driver's license. ("Department of Motor Vehicles" is a common name for the department that issues state drivers' licenses; however, each state's department may have another name.)
To obtain a replacement license, you will need to have proof of your identity (some states require two forms) and pay a fee. Fees vary from state to state. Some states do not charge a fee if the driver's license is lost as a result of a crime and you provide the licensing agency with a copy of the police report. Some states allow replacement driver's licenses to be issued via mail; others require your presence at a state office.
Replacing your passport
If you have lost your passport or you believe that it has been stolen, you must take two steps:
- Report your passport as lost or stolen.
- Replace your passport.
Report your passport as lost or stolen.
You must fill out Form DS-64, Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport. Fill in as much of the passport information as you can and answer all the other questions in detail. Sign and submit Form DS-64 to:
U.S. Department of State
Consular Lost/Stolen Passport Section
1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Passports reported lost or stolen are invalidated and can no longer be used for travel. Once a passport is reported lost or stolen, it cannot be re-validated. If you recover the passport after you have reported it lost or stolen, you must submit it to the U.S. Department of State at the address listed above. When you submit it, you can request that it be canceled and returned to you. If you don't request the passport to be returned, it will be destroyed.
You can find more information about reporting your passport as lost or stolen or replacing your passport at the U.S. Department of State Web site.
Replace your passport.
To obtain a new passport, you must appear in person at a Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility. If your still valid passport was lost or stolen, you must submit Form DS-64, Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport, and Form DS-11, Application for Passport, when you apply for a replacement at a Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility.