While spending the day with my family at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park a few years ago, my bag which contained my wallet was stolen.
I learned a few lessons that day: first, spend the few dollars on the locker, and second, Disney is THE PLACE to have your wallet stolen (I'll explain the later in another post).
From the time the bag was taken, to when I noticed it, was not more than 45 minutes. So with the help of Disney security and the Orange County Sheriffs Office I was able to file a police report and call to cancel all of my cards in rather short order (or so I thought).
The Disney personnel did everything they could to help me figure out phone numbers to all of the credit cards that I had in my wallet, that I remembered, but in the back of my wallet, laid a card that I forgot, my HELOC line of credit.
We were staying in Orlando that entire weekend, so while I was upset by the wallet issue, I had thought that the crisis had been averted. When we arrived home at the end of the weekend, a couple sobering messages were on voicemail.
Apparently, Countrywide (who I held my HELOC with) keeps a pretty watchful eye on these accounts. They called to confirm charges that were being made in Kissimmee, FL for a few hundred dollars each, totaling over $1000. I quickly told them what happened and contested the charges with no problems. While the thief only ended up with a $1000 worth of electronics, it could have been much MUCH worse, as there was over $30,000 available in that credit line.
Back Up your Wallet
Unlike your flash drive, you cannot keep a functional copy of your drivers license, credit cards, etc., but you can keep a readily accessible facsimile using gMail, by simple doing the following.
- Empty your wallet or purse
- Scan the front and back of EVERYTHING
- Email it to your gmail account
Now, if your purse or wallet is stolen, all you need is a Internet connection to retrieve the contents. By scanning the back of all of the cards, you have every phone number you need accessible.
As credit cards are replaced or updated, I simply scan that card and reply to the original message to that it is now maintained in the original message's thread.
What makes this even better, is the fact that gMail has a mobile interface, which means you could look up the contents of your wallet on almost ANY cellphone. In emergencies like these, paying a couple dollars for the data rate transfers (if you don't have an unlimited data plan) would be worth it in the long run.
If you utilize Google Apps for your Domain, you can even setup a emergency backup email account on gmail to hold this and other important documents. It is like free, secure, offsite storage.
Image: The Magical Adventures of SJ & Brett… [via Flickr]