I woke up to a phone call from my husband at 6:30 one morning and the not-so-exciting news that his keys, wallet, and phone were stolen while he was at work. His wallet, of course, had his ID and Social Security Card in it, along with a debit card and the one measly credit card we had. Since my husband works full-time as a barista and wasn’t able to immediately take care of everything and I work from home, I knew I was in for an annoying morning. Luckily I mostly felt fine: our bank shuts down cards the minute you say “stol–” and we had the foresight to opt into our phone company’s insurance program so I knew that would be handled as well.
It turns out that taking care of ALL of your information in the event of theft or fraud is pretty easy — I handled everything in less than two hours, in between making breakfast for my four-year-old and tweeting about the situation. Here are the steps I took to prevent identity theft and make sure anything that needed to be shut down and replaced would be:
1. Call the bank
I called our bank first. I don’t know why, other than someone spending the money we do have is kind of terrifying to me. The theft happened on the first of May — right when rent is due — so I wanted to make sure whoever took everything hadn’t spent any money. Luckily there were no transactions, so the bank was able to immediately close my husband’s cards and send out new ones. Nice.
2. Call the police
I called our local non-emergency number after the bank, and left a message with dispatch.
3. Call the phone people
We pay for an extra security feature that can locate our phones, but I couldn’t get into my husband’s account to locate his so I just suspended his phone service so whoever took it couldn’t do anything without replacing the SIM card. I filed a claim with the company who handles our phone insurance, and within two hours they had processed the claim.
4. Tell the FTC
Since his Social Security Card was stolen, I followed these steps:
- Go to FTC.gov
- Click “Consumer Protection”
- Click “File a complaint”
- Fill out your info
The FTC doesn’t handle cases of stolen individual Social Security Cards, but they collect information that can be used in an investigation or prosecution of thieves.
5. Tell credit agencies
My next step was to visit Experian and place a fraud alert on his account. Additionally, I entered my phone number and set it up so that they have to call me if anyone tries to open a credit account with my husband’s information. As a courtesy, Experian contacts the two other major credit agencies (TransUnion and Equifax) for you and the alerts are placed across the board.
6. Replace your locks
My husband also lost his keys, which had a key to our apartment, laundry room, and mail box. I emailed our landlord, and he made arrangements to come by two hours later with new keys for everything.
7. Hang out and wait
The police ended up calling me back right as I finished everything, and my husband went in person to file a report after work. They were happy that I had already taken all of the above steps — it made everyone’s morning a little easier.
This took less than two hours total — from the time my husband called me (6:40AM) to the time I got off the phone with the police (around 8AM). It was slightly annoying having to make so many calls so early in the day, but overall I’m glad that it was really as easy as it was — a few phone calls, a little bit of waiting, and boom! Mischief managed.