As you’ll no doubt recall, I recently posted my lost wallet in the Philippines saga here (and again and again, thank you Jun and Josh).
Recently my friend Bob ran a guest post from a fellow name of Steven Burns. Steven lost his Philippine ACR-I card (Gold Card) and graciously took the time to write-up a very complete and coherent report and “how to” detailing the steps to get a replacement. Recommended reading.
Excellent rundown. Sorry Steven lost his card, but I’m glad he chose to share his experience with us. It will be a big help.
As some here know, I just lost my wallet a few days back, but … drum roll please … it was returned the next morning, 100% intact. (Thank you Jun and Josh, and God bless).
In addition to the usual anger and embarrassment you feel when your wallet goes missing, here’s something that added to the shade of red on my face … and also a step you mentioned.
To all reading this .. in whatever country you are in … take out your wallet, right now as you are reading this.
First: Take out _everything_ that is in the wallet … yes, even that 40 year-old social security card I didn’t know I had stuffed in that secret pocket. You will only ever need your Social Security card once (perhaps) in the Philippines,(if you apply for Social security benefits at the US Social Security office in the US Embassy). So why on earth was I carting that around? Talk about a treasure trove for a potential identity thief! Dumb of me. Don’t you make the same mistake.
Now carefully replace only what truly _has_ to be in there. Example … I had two different US military ID’s in my wallet. The chances of needing them on the street in the Philippines? About zero or even a little less.
I also had a couple credit cards I never use? Why? I keep the credit cards active as part of my emergency medical care plan, but to carry them around in my wallet? Hardly smart, Dave, hardly smart at all.
Why was all this extra ‘stuff’ in my wallet? Things collect in your wallet, that’s why. What you don’t carry around in your wallet, you can’t lose. Simple, but we often never think of it.
Second: Scan the front and back of everything that goes back in your wallet … and the face page and visa page of your passport. Why scan, let’s say a credit card? Ummm, if you lose it, and you have to report it stolen and need it cancelled … can you guess what the first thing you need to know is? Yep, the phone number to call (it’s on the back of the card). The second thing? The credit card number, all 16 or 18 digits.
You CAN get your card canceled without knowing the number, but it will take a lot longer and make you feel embarrassed and harassed all that much longer on the phone.
Likewise, a scan of the appropriate pages in the passport will greatly speed procedures at your embassy if you ever have to go to report a stolen passport.
Make it simple, have a scan of the info you need for cancellations/replacements kept safely _away_ from your wallet.
Third: This should be obvious … thankfully I only committed the first two blunders … do NOT write down the pin codes of your cards and carry them along with your wallet.
If a crook finds your wallet, and finds a credit card and a PIN number, how long do you think it will take before he finds a teller machine? You are protected, in most cases, from fraudulent charges made on a credit card, but if someone takes out cash with a debit card … it’s gone forever.
Fourth: And perhaps most important, put something obvious in your wallet that shows a potential “good Samaritan” how to get in touch with you. As it was, I was so lucky that Jun persevered in finding me, asking Josh to take the time to email me. Yes, my address was there, on my driver’s license, but really, what use is that?
Philippine addresses are often hard to find even for Filipinos, and it’s pretty unreasonable to figure that someone is going to drive 25 miles out of his way to try to track you down. Make it easy for people to do the right thing, that’s my thought.
Expecting an email or a personal visit from the ‘Finder’ is unreasonable. Have a readily findable business card or other obvious card with your name, address, email and your cell phone number easily visible. A huge percentage of business (commercial business, personal business and (so I am told) monkey business) in the Philippines is done via SMS (texting). So if the wallet finder sees your cell number right away, I’d say you chances are way, way better of seeing your old friend, your wallet, yet again.
Think through what is in your wallet, and let me know your thoughts on this.