We've all done it—left our wallet on the table at a restaurant or walked out of the library without our backpack. Sometimes we're lucky and it’s still there when we go back, sometimes not. This section outlines steps to take in case your IDs or cards become lost or stolen, and covers the following topics:
- Protecting your personal information
- Replacing credit, debit, and ATM cards
- Dealing with credit card loss or fraudulent charges
- Dealing with ATM or debit card loss or fraudulent transfers
- Reporting and replacing your missing driver's license
- Reporting your passport as lost or stolen
- Replacing your passport
Protecting Your Information
Keeping your information safe starts with prevention:
1. 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 and notify authorities of what was taken.
2. Make photocopies of the fronts and backs of your driver’s license, credit cards, and debit card. Additionally, write down the phone numbers of any customer service hotlines or agencies you would need to contact in the case of an emergency. Keep all of this information stored in a secure place in your room so you have one-stop access to all the information you need if you lose your wallet.
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. You will need to know your account number and when you noticed your card was missing. Make a note of the date you first reported the loss.
Dealing with Credit Card Loss or Fraudulent Charges
The government provides protection for credit card holders in the event that their card is compromised:
- If you report the loss of your credit card before anyone uses it, the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized charges. Similarly, if the loss involves your credit card number but not the card itself, you have no liability for unauthorized use.
- If you notice unauthorized charges on your statement after they've occurred, you still have protection. As long as you report the charges within 60 days of receiving your statement, you are only liable for a maximum of $50—regardless of the amount charged.
Call customer service any time you see a questionable charge on your statement.
Dealing with ATM or Debit Card Loss or Fraudulent Transfers
If your ATM card or debit card is lost or stolen, report it immediately:
- 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 of unauthorized use.
- If you don't report the loss within two business days, but do report it within 60 days, your liability is capped at $500.
- However, if you wait longer than 60 days to report the loss, you become at risk of complete loss of all assets in your account.
Reporting and Replacing Your Missing Driver's License
If your driver's license has been lost or stolen, report the incident to your local police department's nonemergency line (it is not necessary to call 911). The local police likely will have forms you need to fill out to report the incident. Be sure to get a copy of the report.
To replace your driver’s license, you will need at least one proof of identity and you’ll be charged a fee. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles for the state that issued your driver's license for office locations and additional information.
Reporting Your Passport as Lost or Stolen
Once you realize your passport is gone, you must submit 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, D.C. 20036
Once you report your passport as lost or stolen, it becomes invalidated and you no longer can use it for travel—even if you find it. In fact, if you do recover it after reporting 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 ask for the canceled 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 website.
Replacing 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.