5 Prep Tips For Wallet Theft Or Loss On The Road
My heart dropped as soon as I realized my wallet was gone. Even worse I had no idea where it had happened so I couldn’t even go looking for it. We’d been sightseeing around Lake Havasu City all day and it was definitely gone…lost…vanished. Oh bum!! My cards, drivers licence…everything would need to be replaced. Thankfully I had been prepared for this eventually for quite a long time so I was somewhat ready, but the event nonetheless made me think about how I could do this better and how I could help others do this better.
What would you do if you lost your purse or wallet on the road? Would you be prepared? How quickly would you be able to cancel/close your cards? How would you handle the time between losing all your cards/money and the time you’re able to get new ones? What if you’re out boondocking and nowhere near your bank or a shippable address for a few weeks? What if you can’t remember what’s in you wallet?
You never want to hope to lose your wallet, but you have to be prepared for it. It could happen as an accident, or via malicious intent (theft). In my case it was an accident -> it slipped out of my hiking pants side-pocket. As it so happened my wallet was picked up by a kind van dweller and returned to me several hours later, but by that time I had already cancelled all my cards. I was overjoyed to have my drivers license back, but still very happy that all my cards had been closed and protected in a timely manner.
So, in the spirit of passing all good karma along, here’s my prep tips for wallet loss, something everyone should think about:
1/ Keep A Small Wallet
I think one of the best pieces of advice I can give any traveling nomad is to keep a small/manageable wallet. By that I don’t mean size (although small is nice), but I mean with regards to how many cards you carry with you. One debit card, one credit card, your health insurance card and your drivers licence should pretty much cover the majority of what you need everywhere.
If you lose it, you won’t have much to worry about. Just a few cards to cancel and get re-issued. Many folks keep a bunch of “extra” stuff in their wallets including their grocery cards, membership cards, old credit cards (never used), photos, trinkets etc. all of which create more hassle in case of loss. Just bring the basics and leave the rest at home.
I use a small credit card holder for my cards in which I only keep the basics. Cash is kept separately. When I travel internationally I keep everything in a money belt (which I strap on my body), but here in the US I typically just put the card holder in the side-pockets of my hiking pants, which are usually zippered shut (and for the most part this works flawlessly except when you forget to zipper and/or you take something out of said pocket and the holder slips out with it, duh!). I rarely carry a purse and I never put money/cash in an easily accessible location (e.g. jeans back pocket or open jacket pocket).
2/ Keep Details & Pics/Copies Of On All Your Cards Online
Several years ago I managed to leave the US on a trip to Peru without my Green Card. It was an incredibly stupid thing to do and when I got back into the US it took me three hours before they released me from the interrogation room. The only reason I wasn’t held any longer than this was because I had the foresight to take a picture/photocopy of my Green Card and keep it in a secure place online. While I was in Peru I managed to access the picture at an Internet Cafe and print it out so I was ready for my trip back home. Without this little detail my ordeal would have been a lot worse.
Since that time I’ve kept an online copy of ALL our important documents (drivers license, credit cards, passports, medical info, pet vaccinations etc.) and it’s come in handy more than once. We currently use Dropbox* with added security**, but any good online storage will work. I can access this storage from anywhere, on any device, or from any computer (e.g. in a library or Internet Cafe) which means I always have my card info on hand if something should happen, here or abroad.
In the same vein it’s helpful to keep a list of all your bank and credit card customer service phone numbers online. Every single credit card company I’ve ever dealt with has toll-free numbers and 24 hour service (many even offer international collect call numbers), but getting/finding those numbers while you’re panicking about your lost cards can be super stressful. By keeping a list online in a simple document file (together with your card details), you’ll have an easy reference in case your stuff gets stolen.
A last idea, although it’s not really too necessary if you follow tip #1 is to take a picture of everything you have in your wallet and put that online too. That way you can tell, at a glance, what you had with you.
* My Dropbox login info as well as all my other important passwords is kept on LastPass which I can also access anywhere, from any computer or any device. For those worried about using a password program on a non-trusted computer such as in a library or Cafe (because of potential keyloggers, for example) Lastpass offers two-step authentication and/or allows you to create one-time passwords which can only be used once.
**For sensitive personal stuff there are many ways to beef-up online security including 2-step authentication and encryption with services such as TruCrypt and BoxCryptor. Read more about beefing up Dropbox security HERE.
3/ Have A Back-Up Credit Card
One of the things which “saved” us this week was the fact that we had one emergency backup credit card (in a different spot from my wallet) which was not attached to any of the accounts I had to cancel.
This meant that even though we had to cancel ALL of our main bank & credit accounts (which are all joint), we still had a means to pay for groceries, gas, recurring bills etc. Since we are not near a shipping address in our current location (and besides which, many credit cards will only ship to your “home” address), it’ll take at least a week (or more) to get our new cards. So, having this back-up will help us to get through the next week or so without any issues.
These days it’s super easy to get an extra credit card which has no yearly fees. Just keep it somewhere safe and easily accessible (i.e. in your rig and not locked up in your storage unit in Phoenix). This way you always have a back-up no matter what happens to the rest of your cards.
4/ Keep A Checkbook
Checks are passé, and most folks don’t even own a checkbook these days, but I consider it an extremely good backup to have. We keep a checkbook stored in a safe place in the rig, and end up writing at least a few checks each year (for campground fees and such). If you are forced to cancel your credit card most places (e.g. grocery stores, RV parks, gas stations etc.) will still accept good-old fashioned checks**.
Also, if you cancel your debit card and need cash you can use a check to write yourself some cash! Checks can be cashed in at a bank, and at many retailers, such as 7-Eleven, Walmart and some supermarket chains (usually there is a fee), so even if you are far away from your home bank, your checkbook can still get you cash.
**For payment by check some places require you to present picture ID too, so if you lost your drivers license with your wallet your passport is a good alternative.
5/ Bank With Good Institutions & Set-Up Auto Alerts
Every good bank out there offers some kind of fraud protection on their cards as long as you report the card lost or stolen in a timely manner. Once you report the loss or theft, the law says you have no additional responsibility for charges you didn’t make. I always check that my credit cards offer this protection, and would never accept carrying a card that didn’t.
I also always take the additional precaution of setting-up automatic alerts on my cards, usually for any charge over a certain $$ limit (say $100), so that I get an e-mail and phone text whenever those limits are exceeded. This way, even if I didn’t notice my wallet was gone I would still get an alert if any of my cards were used for anything above that amount. It’s a nice, additional protection to have for fraud prevention and most cards offer this service for free in their online settings.
So, how are we handling the loss, besides me kicking myself in the head of course? Thankfully I got my wallet back, but since I had already cancelled all my cards we’re just using our back-up credit card (and checkbook) until I manage to get new ones sent to me. We were lucky enough to have ALL the credit card phone numbers on hand, so as soon as I noticed my wallet was gone we called and cancelled all of them within 1/2 hour. Also since I had auto-alerts set on all my cards beforehand I knew (for a fact) that none of them had been used.
When I get my new cards I’m going to photograph them all and put those pics online, plus I’m going to re-evaluate how much I keep in my carrier (I’d been getting lazy lately and had a few too many cards in there…my bad). The entire thing is a bit of a hassle, but it could have been much, much worse and if the person who found my wallet had malicious intent I would have been protected right away.
What about you? Have you lost your wallet on the road? Any of you have any additional tips? DO share and comment below!
Related Blog Post:
3 Steps To Better Online Password Management
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Todd B says
What a timely post. As you know, Russ and I had our wallets stolen (both of them) recently so we have been through this same situation.
Another tip is phone app based. I had all of my eligible cards registered in the Apple Pay app on my iPhone. When we realized our wallets were gone I wasn’t sure they had been stolen, but started to call our cards anyway. I then received an alert on my phone that $300 had been spent at a nearby Wal-Mart. It was at that moment that we knew our wallets were stolen and our cards were already being used. The alerts of charges appear on your phone within a minute or two of the charge being made. Real time reporting. This allowed the officer helping us to go to that store and see if he could apprehend the criminal. He didn’t catch the theif(s) but it was a good effort.
For those that use Android phones you can set up Google Wallet which offers similar functionality. These apps are like having a real time notice of your account usage, particularly useful when you are not the one using your account!!!
Todd B says
Please disregard my spelling errors! Ugh…
I TOTALLY thought of you two when this happened to us this week, and I remembered back to the conversation we had in Borrego about this very issue. GREAT tips on the Apple Pay and Google Wallet Apps. Thanks for writing them down!
My wife temporarily lost her driver’s licence a few years ago when we were about 350 miles from home. That got me wondering about solo RVers losing their DL. It seems that they would be stuck in place until their state issued a replacement. I don’t see a Highway Patrolman accepting a photo of a DL and sending you on your way. Any knowledge or thoughts on this?
That’s a really good question! As far as I know it is illegal to drive without a drivers license, period.
You can usually apply for a temporary replacement to be mailed to you out-of-state, and if you’ve taken a photo/copy of your drivers licence you can certainly print that out and carry it with you, but the latter is not a legal document and technically speaking I believe you’d be driving illegally until you got the new drivers license on-hand. As a solo RVer I’m not sure how I would handle this other than try to drive as little as possible while I wait for my new card to be sent to me.
If anyone knows any differently DO comment on this!
Note/ If you do lose your drivers license it’s recommended you file an official police report for the loss, either in person or online. This is something I forgot to mention in the post.
Excellent article & reminder.. and your experience prompted me to put one of my rarely used cards back in the safe we keep in the RV. It can happen to anyone.
I would however recommend carrying TWO credit cards with you. Us nomads have pretty high odds of one of our credit card companies denying charges because we moved locations. There have been way too many times we’ve had to pull out a back-up credit card to pay for groceries while we re-assured our other bank that ‘yes.. really, we’re in a new location.’
Despite a 9 year history of constant new locations, and having them mark our account as a perpetual traveler – it still seems to happen once or twice a year. If anyone has a bank that actually listens, we’d love to know about it.
So happy you got your wallet back.. and that you’re able to turn your experience into a helpful reminder to the rest of us. Thank you!
That’s a good tip. It’s the reason I carry both a credit and debit card in my wallet (the debit card can be used as both a debit and/or credit in case the first one fails). I’ve certainly had a card denied, for whatever reason and needed the second one to pay.
These are all great tips – I just love reading your insights and learning from your wisdom. I’d like to add another point to keep in mind and that’s don’t have huge credit limits on your credit cards. We have two cards – our main one with just a $2000 limit and our backup with just a $500 limit. That way in case all the other security measures fail, at least we won’t be out thousands – and yes $2500 is enough to lose, but at least it’s won’t be $15,000.
Good little tip. Most folks try to get the max. credit limit on their cards, but there’s really no reason for that if you use credit sparingly (which we certainly do). Of course your card SHOULD protect you. If you report the loss in a timely manner you should not be liable for any charges you did not make (no matter how big). It’s still nice to have the extra protection though.
Laura Lambert says
I’d like to state that there is a limit to how much you are responsible as long as you report your card missing in a timely manner. I know at one point it was only $50, not sure if that is still the case or not.
I’d also like to politely disagree about your chosen limits. The limit on your credit cards often needs to be large enough to cover your regular charges and the unexpected. Do you regularly choose to stay at a park for a week or a month at a time? While you may be able to write a check, from what I’ve seen less and less places take checks in general (not sure how this is reflected at most campgrounds). What if you have an unexpected repair to make? Or even a planned for repair or tires often it is just easier to use a credit or debit card than a check especially a non-local check.
Please don’t think I’m saying to get the highest credit limit possible and carry high balances, because that’s not what I mean at all. I’m just trying to say, that you want your line of credit to be able to handle the your emergencies if/when they come up. Especially your emergency card that you pull out when you have lost your cards, or have that emergency on the road.
More good points. Thanks for sharing!
I lost my wallet this past summer in Dawson City, Yukon- slipped out of my pocket while watching the northern lights on a hill outside town! Amazingly ended up getting it back in Anchorage a few days later from the traveler who found it… still sucked though. Long and short of it tho is I agree, emergency credit card is a godsend.
Yeah, you don’t realize how dependent you are on cards until you lose them. Getting gas, groceries etc…all require payment. Having a backup card is a critical item.
Barbara-Me and My Dog ...and My RV says
I had my purse stolen before I was RVing. I was out for drinks with friends and when I left the bar, it was gone. It was found up in a tree by someone the next morning, and they called me right away. It still had everything in it but my cash, so I was lucky. But, like you, had already phoned all my credit card companies and that was a pain. I had a photocopy of the front/back of all my credit cards. 🙂
When the Social Security Administration noted me as deceased last August, I was glad I had more than one credit card. I went to BofA and used one of my cards to get a $1,000 advance in cash, just in case. Then I thought I might need more before this was settled, so I went back the next morning to get another thousand, and that card was closed, too. Luckily B of A believed I was still alive and opened a checking account for me (with the $1,000 cash), also a credit and debit card. 🙂
Your experience of being declared deceased is a horror story in and of itself. I can’t believe all the hoops you’ve had to jump thro’ (and are still jumping through) to “resurrect” yourself. Very happy that BofA took such good care of you.
Alison Erickson says
Just curious as to how in the world the person who found your wallet knew to then find you?
I had my Escapees Card in there (one of the “extra” cards which I probably shouldn’t have been carrying around, but anyway) and that’s what allowed him to find me. He called Escapees, who in turn called me to give his info. We connected via phone and met-up for the exchange.
In the future I’m going to keep a simple calling card in my wallet with my phone contact info. Kind of like “if lost, please call this number”. That would make it easier for a good Samaritan to return the wallet and wouldn’t give too much personal info away to a malicious person.
Excellent reminders. I am guilty of being complacent and sometimes an unwanted event like yours jolted us to take precautionary measures. I particularly like tip no 2 and it makes a whole lot of sense.
Since I travel abroad pretty much annually, your tips are very timely.
The online access has helped me immensely for international travel. I always have access to every important document, no matter where I am. I’ve used this perk more than once during my travels.
Those are all great tips and truly appreciated. I recently had a debit and credit card stolen from a Verizon store and fortunately started getting fraud alerts within a half hour. The thief might have been crafty but not very smart by attempting to buy $2000 worth of merchandise at a nearby Target Store, and actually handed over the 2nd card when the 1st was refused! Still, the hassle of cancelling and waiting for the replacements, remembering which auto-payments might be attached to one of those cards, is a pain.
Glad you caught the charges quickly, but totally commiserate about the wait for the new cards. It takes longer than you think, especially if you happen to be out in the boonies without an easy, shippable address.
As I have been reading the article and comments I had an idea to add to the mix. You speak of leaving spare ID, spare unattached credit card, and a checkbook in a seperate location in your rig. While you are at put $100 to $500 cash in with the emergency stash. Cash is king and should work when all else fails.
It’s s good tip Chuck and one we always follow too. We keep a small stash of spare cash in the rig.
Last time I lost my wallet was in or about 1960 and it was mailed to me with cash still in it. I have a dozen or so credit cards but only carry a couple in my wallet. I also use mostly cash while traveling as I feel each time a credit card is used there is potential for theft. I have a small water/fireproof safe secured to the floor so even in the event of accident or fire I feel decent protection from loss.
All your advice is good but might be a bit scary to the tech illiterate individual. Also, most of my credit cards have variations of my name on them which might confuse most people. One of my Amex cards has only one name, my nickname, and that sometimes makes the vendor ask questions but I can deal with it.
The tip about keeping a “calling card” in your wallet is excellent and I’d take it one step further and make that a label so IT couldn’t fall out.
I JUST thought of it as part of the comment section in this post (this is why I love blogging), so I’m going to implement that in the future. I like the idea of making it a permanent label.
Dawn from Camano Island says
Such good news that your wallet was found & returned. Thank you also for the great tips–will be taking the steps you mentioned. I think to think that my big a** purse & my habit of never putting my wallet in my purse until my cards are in there is helpful but you never know. Dropbox annoys me to no end but I can definitely put all the info in LastPass. Love the idea about carrying an extra credit card and cash.
Any online storage system will work so if you have a preference for Apple Cloud or Google or Amazon they can all be used. You just need to make sure it’s accessible anywhere from any computer, just in case you lose your phone too.
You can certainly also keep all your card details and phone numbers in LastPass, either as a secure note or in their wallet section. That totally works too.
Do you have any concerns about control over your data in the event that the Dropboxes and LastPasses of the world go out of business or get bought out by another firm? Perhaps I’m a timid soul, but with the continuing publicity regarding data breaches and potential for insider mischief, I am leery of anything resembling “cloud”s for sensitive storage. I did appreciate Tip #5 on the auto alerts, and am looking into setting those up. Thanks.
I don’t worry about this too much. All our data is encrypted (which is something I didn’t specifically mention in the post…I’ll update that point), so even if it was breached or lost it would be incredibly hard to use. We keep copies in other places too, since one backup (in my mind) is never enough.
That said I understand why people are leery, and it pays to make sure your online material, especially the sensitive stuff is as secure as it possibly can be.
-> For LastPass you can use 2-step authentication, amongst other thing and I discussed many of these details in my post on passwords (feel free to go back and read the post and comments below it). LastPass does encrypt your passwords and never keeps your master password in their system.
-> For beefing up Dropbox security this is an excellent article:
I had my card skimmed at a fuel station a couple of years ago (Barstow Flying J, btw). What a pain! I don’t have a second card (although it’s certainly a good idea!), but was traveling with a friend so we used the friend’s card until I got my new one.
One thing I do is carry a decent stash of cash. Not so much that I feel like folks have a compelling reason to knock me off, but enough to at least buy enough gas to get me to a friend’s place (which would likely be a few tanks away) and to keep me from starving.
One thing I was surprised by was how long it took to get a new card. Maybe this is because I use a smaller bank, but “normally” it was going to take a couple of weeks. Ugh! I was able to arrange for them to overnight it to me (in a completely different state/via general delivery), but I had to pay for that.
It sure is a reality check.
We had our credit card skimmed at a gas station too a few years ago. Ugh! Since that time I’ve learned never to leave my card at the counter while I pump. Thankfully we caught the fraudulent charges right away, but since we were way out in the boonies it took some time to get our new card delivered to us.
So yup, we’ve experienced the same thing.
PS: I do also still carry a checkbook (and use it more often than I would have thought).
Thanks for the great tips. What I’m curious about is, how does someone else use your cards in person. Don’t they require a PIN? If the thief or finder doesn’t have your PIN they shouldn’t be able to use the card. That’s how it works everywhere in Canada now, in my experience. Is it different in the USA?
Granted, someone can make online purchases using the 3-digit code on the back of the card. Often online sellers will only ship to the billing address, though.
Granted, losing cards is a pain and getting them replaced is a hassle. Thanks for all the good tips.
A debit card requires a pin, but a credit card does not at least here in the US. In a store the thief will need to sign, but since the signature is rarely checked that’s easy to fake. Online it’s even easier especially if the thief has your whole wallet with address.
The thieves who do this professionally know exactly where and how they can use your stolen card, so they’ll typically start charging really fast. Most of the fraud I’ve dealt with has happened within 20 mins of losing the card.
Dave (GoingRvWay.com) says
We lost a credit card which later we found, after we cancelled it of course. Had a Sam’s Discover (which now is a Mastercard) which THEY canceled because a place we used it had reported cases of fraud….so anyone who used their card there had them canceled and replaced. They had already mailed replacement to Florida, but said they were willing to cancel that one and send another replacement to California (over night mail) where we were staying…but we just had Marcia’s brother, who monitors our mail, forward it to us. So if you only have two or three cards, you may end up losing access to one for a few days if something like that happens to you. Also we have been temporarily locked out of use of various cards from time to time due to OUR strange activity, this despite the fact we contacted all of our credit cards to let them know of our trips, the states we are traveling through, etc.
We’ve had the bank put stops on our cards too, for various reasons. For example a few weeks ago we tried to charge our credit card three times at the same gas stop (once for the tow, partial fill for the RV and then final fill for the RV). The last attempted charge triggered a fraud alert and so the the card was cut off and denied. We sorted it out quite quickly, but had to switch to our other card for the final charge.
Deb spencer says
Great tips Nina. We need to step up our game for sure. Thanks for helping us newbies (and seasoned) RVers stay smart!
Great post…Lost wallet or credit card has not happened yet, but two of your points #2 phone #’s and a photo of your cards and having phone numbers of card companies handy on my smart phone just in case.
We have been hit twice in the last few years where shortly after purchasing an item or service with a credit card, the credit card company has contacted us about unusual activities 100’s of miles away.
The last one was about 30 minutes after purchasing lift tickets with my credit card at a ski resort. The person took my cc behind the window to scan it. I’m going to assume it was copied, because the CC company said it was being used to buy TV’s, gas, and toys in New York City in the last 30 minutes. At that point I canceled the card.
Credit card thieves are so fast! I try not to let my card out of sight, but it’s not always so easy (e.g. at a restaurant and other such places), and the thieves are so sneaky that they can skim all the info is almost no time at all. Good thing you caught it fast.
Somebody palmed my wallet off of the counter of the catering truck I was running back in the summer of ’76. It was a Monday morning and I needed to take out some cash to make change. That was enough of a lesson for me. My wallet is in my front pocket (harder to steal) and remains there unless removed ever so briefly to access a credit or debit card etc. Never ever does it get put down. Ever. And I don’t keep cash in it.
Just one of those things you learn the hard way. I’ve been lucky so far, but I think “luck” is something you can control in this type of situation.
Being nomadic, I totally get the idea of having your information on-line. I suppose I might do it one day. I’m not overly confident in the “security” of some of these on-line companies though.
Good luck to you replacing your stuff.
I “learned” to keep a thin wallet from having my stuff stolen (many years ago) too. I’ve pretty much kept it thin ever since, but sometimes I start to get complacent.
Online security is an important concern and I totally understand why many people are wary of it. I’m not a hacking expert, but I do beef-up my online security with encryption, 2-step authentication and such.
Leslie from Australia says
Manny thanks for your great post. A “gunna” job that lots put off. But I have taken photos of my cards and they are now resting in dropbox (lucky I had an account there for photos) all thanks to you…great …cheers
Excellent! Glad I could help you get backed up.
Angela Stalans says
Love the tips. We do a few things already but I like the idea of alerts for certain amounts. One thing we’ll do next is an idea from a friend who went through something similar. She has one card that is only for her automatic payments. She doesn’t travel with it so if her wallet is taken again, at least she doesn’t have to redo all the utilities and such. That is ready a pain on the road. Safe travels!
That’s actually a neat little idea. Having all auto-payments on a separate card (that’s not kept in your wallet) alleviates a lot of the headaches with keeping ontop of bills if you lose your purse. I like it!
In place of a single emergency credit card, why not just have the banks issue different card numbers for the two of you? That way, the “luckier” spouse is not affected.
That’s also a possibility, but we’ve just always had joint accounts and joint cards. The emergency card works for us. For other couples separate cards may make more sense. For single RVers multiple cards make sense. The important thing is simply to make sure you have a backup that is in a different place, and not connected (account-wise) to the cards you carry in your wallet.
Jenny Waters says
Thank you for the tips. This is an awful thing to think about having to deal with on the road. I like the idea of having a little cash hidden in the vehicle. If you’re interested, if you have a gmail account, you also have access to Google Drive. My husband says Google Drive is a lot more secure against hackers than Dropbox. (He used to work in IT before we were self employed and knows these sorts of things.) He said you get a free 15 gigs and it’s attached to your gmail account. You can also upload password-protected .zip files to keep them even more secure. He said you can use the software 7-zip (available at 7-zip.org) to encrypt any folder and it’s free.
Great info thanks! I like that Google Drive gives you 15GB up front. Dropbox only gives you 2GB (for free) which gets used up pretty fast.
Encryption of your sensitive personal files for online storage is also an important tip and one I forgot to mention specifically in the post. Several services in addition to the one you mentioned are BoxCryptor and TrueCrypt. I’ve updated the blog post to add these in.
Today our granddaughter left her wallet in a local gas station/convenience store in our small home town of Big Timber,MT. She did not realize her wallet was missing. The personnel of the store not having a phone number for Laci in the wallet and not able to find a number for her father–his number is listed under the ranch he manages, not his name–the store called Laci’s 92 year old great-grandfather (Nat) who in turn called Laci’s Dad. You gotta love small town living! Unfortunately Laci, husband and baby had all ready returned to Great Falls, MT, a three hour drive. Laci and baby will be returning to Big Timber tomorrow to retrieve the wallet as they live on base and she needs her military ID to come and go. Glad all is well with your wallet loss–you’ve given me some good ideas!
Small towns are great for this kind of thing. I was amazed to get my wallet back too. The guy who found it went through the trouble to find me, which I deeply appreciated.
John and Pam Wright says
Thanks for the wake up call. We haven’t lost anything…yet, but we need to update photos of our cards, licenses etc. Having those phone numbers handy is really important. I like the idea of having an extra credit card that you don’t carry with you. We both have the same cards so if one of us loses the wallet, we are both in trouble. Outstanding post!!
So glad a kind soul returned your wallet:)
Glad I could give you some useful tips!
So really, it could be that you were too prepared. Had you not been so prepared, you may not have had all of your cards cancelled by the time you got your wallet back. 🙂
HA! Yeah I guess that’s true. I’d still rather be safe than sorry though.
Lauren Brown says
Nina, Did you ever see the Seinfeld episode when George has to deal with a wallet so fat with stuff that it’s causing him gobs of trouble and it finally pops out with cards, receipts and notes flying all over. Well, my wallet isn’t quite that bad but it tends in that direction. Your post is going to cause me to do some soul-searching on keeping it down! Great post, great ideas – including in all the follow-up comments by folks and your replies. Thanks,
You know funnily enough we watched that exact Seinfeld episode last night! Hilarious!
Lynne (winnieViews) says
Excellent tips Nina (and glad you got your wallet back!). When I was in Mexico this winter, I only carried 2 cards around with me, since almost everything is cash-based there), but as soon as I got back to the U.S. I started carrying my old wallet again (overstuffed with every card I have and rarely uses). I will follow your tip from now on to slim down my wallet and leave them in a separate place for emergency use. I do this routinely with backup hard drives, and also am diligent to keep all my wallet info updated in my online password vault, but duh, never really thought through the details of losing a wallet and needing a backup physical card immediately now that I’m full-timing and not getting mail as quickly. Thanks for this very valuable reminder!
The backup credit card has really made things so much easier for us this week. Glad I could give ya the tip!
Jodee Gravel says
Sorry you had this little misstep but thanks for making lemonade for the rest of us! Like most security, it’s not something we prepare for until it’s too late. At least you did the prep up front 🙂 I gave up the wallet when I retired, replacing it with a binder clip that holds a couple cards, DL and a couple checks – lightweight and small (easier to lose though). I need to get some pants with zippered pockets!!
A small binder clip is perfect. I like keeping a deliberately small wallet.
Excellent post Nina. I have gotten a bit complacent lately so thank you for the wake-up. Glad that a kind person returned your wallet.
I was extremely grateful to him for returning my wallet. He could just as easily have used it or thrown it in the trash. Hope I get to pay it forward to someone else.
Have a question ….. Do you ever worry about your safety or your RV when you are boondocking? If not what do you to protect yourself and your RV when you are say making a trip into town or going on a hike? I know it would be a wise thing to meet any neighbors a person might have just for a buddy system. Wondering what you do or do you worry much about such things even when close to Mexico…
Honestly I usually feel quite safe in the boonies. Boondockers tend to look out for each other and crime levels tend to be low in the boonies (there’s not much payback).
When we leave we lock up the RV and don’t leave anything too tempting outside, but that’s about it. I’m not saying crime never happens out here, but IMHO you’re way more likely to get stuff stolen in the city than in the boonies.
Not coincidently our only ever theft since we started RVing (my bicycle) happened in a gated “secure” park in a big city.
Another trick so that one doesn’t end up entirely without credit is for the spouse to carry a different credit card. For example, you might carry a Visa card while Paul carries a MasterCard. They could still be joint accounts, but if your wallet was lost or stolen containing the Visa card, you would still have the use of the MasterCard in Paul’s wallet.
Yup, that’ll work too.
Caroline Beck says
Great tips and great comments! I need to get with the program and set up our info in my Drive account. I have an email listing of account numbers and passwords(in code) that I update often but pictures are worth a thousand words. We are in Yuma now and while getting gas at Sams yesterday got the message the Sam’s credit card was invalid, guess I better call and see what that is all about.
Looks like you’ve already done some really good prep work. Pics and back-up should be super easy on Google Drive.
Thanks for this post, Nina. I’m glad to hear everything turned out well considering what could have been in such a situation.
Great post with a ton of useful information we should all take to heart, and implement into our own use case scenarios.
In your post you mentioned passports. Many people copy those for online backup and storage purposes as well. And some password managers allow for this as well, some even having specific features built into their app/service.
We’re never too prepared with these things.
Yup, we keep copies of our passport (and my Green Card) online too. It’s a good tip for any international traveller.
Bob Nuttmann says
A good alternative to keeping pictures of important documents on line is to take pictures of them with your cell phone and then just leave them there. This means you can show them without a cell phone connection. I will assume that you have passcode protected your phone of course.
Overseas I usually travel with an LL Bean “wallet” that hangs over my neck. The usual pick pocket technique in big cities is to bump grab or slit grab and is near impossible when something is around you neck and under your shirt.
I always worry when hiking so put my wallet in a pocket that zips or buttons shut. I prefer zipping and nearly all my hiking stuff has one or more zip pockets.
Pics on the phone is a good tip, assuming you have your phone with you when/if the theft happens. It’s another good backup idea.
Great tips! I have most of my documents backed up on Dropbox, but I hadn’t thought about doing the same with the contents of my wallet. Will do immediately. Thanks for sharing.
Nancy Mutell says
One caution about debit cards. My checking and savings are linked and I chose NOT to have overdraft protection so when my debit card was scammed the thief got nothing! I only keep minimal cash in checking and transfer from savings when I know I am purchasing more. My bank actually suggested that to me…kudos to credit unions for forward thinking protection. Another way to keep your hard earned money safe, although yucky that we have to live like this
Another great little tip thanks.
Maggie Johnson says
Thanks for the tip on the overdraft protection. My checking is linked to my savings. Dear God I hate to even think of what could happen. A great tip for me. Thanks again.
Thanks for the great info sharing, good additional tips by others too!
We survived the Target and Home Depot breaches by just insisting on having new cards issued. However now we are one of the proud few 80 some on million that have much more serious risks due to the Anthem breach…
Anthem is offering a free Identity/Credit watch, thru a 2nd party company, but the majority of these are usually an ‘after the fact’ early report of a problem. And I know of no firm that monitors and watches for ‘medical related’ fraud, which could have far worse ramifications…
On our financial security front, we decided to go ahead and pay out of pocket for the three main credit reporting companies to put on Credit Locks. (Credit Locks, as from what I read, Credit Alerts or Warnings are quite often blown passed by these firms.)
We are retired, not planning any major credit related purchases, so for us it seemed like a reasonable thing to do. This should block anyone from being able to open fraudulent accounts in our names and SS#’.s
Downsides are the PITA impact of needing to do temporary Credit Lifts to allow ether specific companies (We are installing a Trav’ler and obtaining a Direct TV account, and that requires us to call Equifax, who Direct TV uses.) to check our credit. Or, you can do a Global 24 Hour lift, which is what we chose to do here. (With Equifax, specific company access, requires them to mail you a specific pin number for that specific company to use. We hear that some companies won’t bother to do this. Plus, it would be mailed to our Mail Forwarding provider, then we’d need to have it sent to us – adding a good 5-7 days to the process. Global opens it for anyone to access, for 24 hour period. Other Credit Reporting companies have different Online Pin methods available.)
Be aware that Locking Your Credit, could also impact those shopping for new insurance, as credit reports are run too…
So yes a PITA, yes $10 each for each agency for $60 to apply the Credit Lock, and then in the future someday another $60 to completely Unlock the Credit Freeze. But this Anthem breach data is so rich for identity theft (SS#, Birth Dates, Employment Records and Salary, and more.) – we see it as a very Long Term risk to us. The Finance Risk is pretty minimum and reduces over time, and reasonable steps can be made to be aware of problems early. It’s the ongoing impact potential to our credit ratings, and possible medical fraud that really concerns us.
Long thread, but, if you have a wallet full of too much info (Nina’s good caution on taking as few as possible cards and info with you, is spot on.) – knowing about the Credit Locking ability may be worth considering if too much of your data is compromised.
Best to all – what a world we live in!!!
Credit freezing/locking is a realistic and practical option for folks who feel they have higher risk, for whatever reason. I’ve known a few people who’ve gone that route and it definitely reduces your risks substantially…at the cost of PITA of course. Cheers very much for sharing your experience of it.
By the way I too wish there was a way to monitor health care fraud. We went through this a few years back with one of Paul’s family members. What a mess!
Great tips, Nina. Glad things all worked out for you! My husband dropped his wallet on a mountain bike ride in Santa Fe once, and in this case, it helped that he had “extra” stuff in it, like some business cards. The first person who found it took the $40 that was in it but left all the cards on the ground. The good samaritan who found it next called someone whose name and number he found on a business card in the wallet. This happened to be one of our Facebook friends who lives in another state. He Facebooked us and gave us the finder’s phone number, so we were able to call him and drive to his place to get the wallet back. All the cards and other miscellany was intact, and we never had to cancel any cards. We were so relieved as we were on a cross-country trip, and without his driver’s license, I would have had to do ALL the driving. Plus, New Mexico cards everyone for alcohol purchases, even 90-year olds, so it was looking like a very “dry” vacation for my hubby! So, long-winded way of saying that sometimes that “extra” crap in your wallet can come in handy, but I do agree that paring it down is a very good idea.
I think having a basic “call this number if found” card would do the trick without needing extra stuff. That’s what I’ve decided to do. Glad it worked out to for you. A “dry” vacation would have been tough!
Bob Leone says
Very good tips, one I will be implementing right away. Thank you for your web site and advice.
Great post Nina. I’m making copies of my cards right now!! My husband’s identity was stolen a few years ago from, of all places, an Oklahoma government website. They published property records and neglected to redact his social security number. We started getting bills from places like PacSun and Sears, people we never shop with, and alerted them that they were fraudulent. Numerous bills and a police report later we finally got it sorted out. Since then both of us have had our credit reports locked directly with the credit agencies. It is painful to lock and unlock when needed at $10 each way for each credit bureau, but that credit rating we spent our lifetimes earning is definitely worth it.
What a horrible experience! I totally understand why you lock your credit.
I’ll repeat the “thanks”. It IS easy to get complacent. My new job is to learn about Google Drive and encryption … so much to keep our brains young these days!! 😉
Here’s one more idea which I took from a Trailer Life magazine article years ago:
As many RVers do, we carry business-style cards for use when meeting new people (ours are cheap and home-made). On the back I have listed the make, model, colour and lic. plate numbers for our RV and truck, an emergency contact back in Canada, and a line that states “We are currently staying at ____ ….” . When we arrive at a new location I fill in the blank and swap the cards in our wallets, putting it in front of our DL’s. If a good Samaritan finds my wallet at least I can be found locally.
BUT, the real gem … I REALLY like this for in case of any accident; emergency personnel would know where to find the other one of us, or our dog, or our rig … Thankfully, we have never had to test whether it “works”, but when my husband rides his bicycle around downtown Mazatlan — he says it’s like being in a video game — I feel secure knowing that the hospital will know where to find me !! 🙁
Nice tip! Cheers for sharing it!
Lauren Brown says
Great post, Nina, with lots of good advice. Glad your wallet was returned!
Aspiring to be a part-time RVer, at least, but in the meantime I travel a lot, for business and pleasure. I lay out all my wallet cards – drivers license, debit and credit, healthcare – on a photocopier at my office, copy at 125% front and back (so I can read them – the back is where the customer service phone numbers are). Then I tuck the copies up deep into the zippered back of my suitcase. Most rolling suitcases with handles have a zippered liner inside. I’ve also hidden cash there when on Mexico trips. I never fully unpack my suitcase, so I can tell if anything has been disturbed. Most hotel room cleaners are on such a tight schedule that, while they may pluck anything laying around in the open, they won’t take the time to rifle around in your suitcase, in my experience. May be just dumb luck but I’ve never had a problem, and I could call all the credit card numbers if I had no internet.