Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Wallet Holds a lot More than Money

Privacy Matters Identity (SM), a leading security and privacy membership program from Adaptive Marketing LLC, knows that a lost wallet can mean instant panic. And those first few seconds of helplessness -- followed by everything from self-deprecation to worry, even to anger -- are perfectly normal. Still, if it happens, consumers need to have a recovery plan in place.

In today's world, it's just too easy for personal information to fall into the wrong hands, notes PMIdentity. So, first and foremost, make sure to stash away all important account numbers elsewhere, separate from that wallet or purse -- especially your Social Security number. Just in case someone else has the chance to go on a no-holds-barred shopping spree or clean out a personal bank account with no reprisals.

Sure, it's inconvenient to have to deal with the loss of critical and personal items -- not to mention cash -- but no one else will do the legwork. So if that trusty billfold or favorite hand bag should suddenly goes missing, PMIdentity recommends creating some semblance of the following "Lost Wallet" recovery plan:

-- Practice the three "Cs." Easier said than done, but this is a good time to try to be cool, calm and collected. Count to 10, and think about retracing those steps to the last time the wallet was accounted for. Anyone can freak out or punch a hole in a wall in a fit of rage. Dare to be different, and breathe deeply instead.

-- Dial for dials. Don't give up "the hunt" right away, but don't dally either. If there's sensitive and personal information in that wallet, anyone who can read can use it for personal gain. Keep those phone skills sharp, think about canceling all the credit and charge cards, and get replacement account numbers. A lost wallet will mean some extra time on the phone, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

-- Sound the alarm. So once those account numbers have been canceled through the individual credit companies, call up the major credit reporting agencies, and ask them to flag accounts with a "fraud alert." In case the cards have already been used by someone else, adding a "victim's statement" to the account history will build in added protection.

-- Meanwhile, back on the busy phones … Once all the financials have been handled, get on the phone with everybody else -- utility companies, the bank and the phone company -- just in case someone out there feels like becoming an identity thief might be an interesting career move.

So before panic takes over, reconstruct the situation. Maybe that missing wallet is in another pair of pants or in the glove compartment of the car. If not, play it safe and get ready to borrow a tip or two from IK9 Privacy Matters Identity.

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