My Convertible Life

Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Protect Yourself If Your Wallet Gets Stolen

Consider this post your public service announcement from My Convertible Life for the month. Just another opportunity to take something I learned the hard way and share it with you so that you can learn it the easy way -- that is, sitting on the couch reading blog posts.

Earlier this month, my purse was stolen.
From the front seat of my locked car.
Which was parked in the driveway of a friend's house.
In the middle of the afternoon.


In the interest of full disclosure, I had left my windows open about two inches because of the unseasonably warm (but oh-so-welcome) temperatures. And, as it turns out, that is just enough space for a skinny teen-age arm to slip into the car, pop the door lock, grab my purse and take off running.

Miraculously (long story short), a neighbor saw the kids digging through my purse beside his house and walked out to confront them. They ditched my purse in the woods and fled the scene, taking only the rare $7 in cash I had in my wallet.

I considered that $7 a happy donation toward not having to replace my driver's license, credit cards, pictures of my kids, almost-filled bagel punch card and two brand new tubes of lipstick. And honestly, I was more pissed off about the prospect of losing the sandwich card and the make-up than I was about the credit cards.

As frustrating and bizarre as the whole experience was, even in the initial panic of realizing my purse had been stolen, I had peace of mind about one thing: I knew exactly what cards were in my wallet and what numbers I'd need to cancel them before anyone started using them.

Here's why -- and here's my PSA info for you:

Several years ago, my wallet was stolen out of my office at work and never recovered (long story -- you can buy me a drink if you want to hear it). The three critical lessons I learned from that painful disaster combined with the recent purse-snatching incident are these:

  1. Never EVER give your PIN number to ANYONE. Not even your bank. Because the person you think is calling from your bank might in fact be the asshole who stole your wallet. Trust me on this. Your bank DOES NOT NEED TO KNOW YOUR PIN. They don't care -- in fact, they don't want to know. YOU are the only person who ever, ever, ever needs your PIN. Have I made myself clear?
  2. Know what's in your wallet. Take every credit card, license or other important item in your wallet out. Place them all on your scanner or photocopier. Make a copy. Turn them all over to the other side and make a second copy. Put these copies in a safe place where you can access them quickly when you're in a panic. Now when your wallet is gone and you can't remember if you still have those credit cards to Ann Taylor much less what number to call to contact your bank, you have everything you need in one place.
  3. Eliminate the temptation. Even if you're just going to be inside for a minute, take your purse with you when you leave the car -- or, at least lock it in the trunk where no one can see it. This rule applies at the mall, in the preschool parking lot and (sadly) in your own driveway.
Now, go in peace and make those copies. Because if you don't do it, you can consider yourself jinxed.


  1. Oh girl, I'm so sorry. These are great tips and I'm gonna make copies ASAP! I'm a little hyper protective of my purse, etc. my car was broken into years ago, lucily purse wasnt in there at the time, but they broke every window. I always my purse in the trunk when i have to leave it in the car, even at church. I think you just don't realize how awful it feels until you've had your life violated in that way.

    1. Oh, that sucks! The police officer who responded to the call told me I was probably lucky that my window was down because at least that way they didn't break the car. Small favors, right?

  2. I think the suggestion of copying every card in your wallet is the best. I read that a long time ago and now have to confess I need to do it since many of my cards have changed. It is very important to do fronts and backs of everything. Otherwise, how do you call in your card theft. Also, some people don't think about NOT keeping this list in their wallet. Use your glove box or in an envelope in the trunk, etc. Thanks for the great tips!

    1. Yeah, not so useful if the info gets stolen along with your wallet. And you're right -- have to remember to update mine, too.

  3. THANK YOU!! Oh, and that SUCKS!!!!! Glad you got everything back. What do you recommend for memberships to zoos and children's museums and things? Scan also. My brain doesn't work, so I'm relying on your common sense.

    1. I copied everything -- even my library card. Just makes it easier to remember what was in there.

  4. A great PSA! I constantly check my pocket to make sure my wallet is there, and would be very pissed if it were stolen.
    Not even for the plasti, but for all the sentimental scraps I carry...

    1. It's so true -- the plastic you can cancel and replace, but the other things are priceless.


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