Monday, November 21, 2011

Always Be On Guard

Last week while I was out with friends at a bar here in Chicago, my night took a turn for the worse when I discovered that my wallet had been stolen.   I have never had my wallet stolen ever in my lifetime and usually I am always VERY cautious and aware when I am out.   Of course we all hear this story, it takes just one time for you to let your guard down for something bad like this to happen.

It has been stressful, upsetting, and a huge pain to take care of this.   My wallet had everything and anything in it- credit cards, insurance cards, business cards, gift cards, membership cards, and so much more.  Everything gone and most of it irreplaceable.   Thankfully it was only my wallet and not my entire purse.  My purse had my keys to my home, a camera and a number of other valuable things in there, which has been a big learning experience as well.

Instead of being angry at the situation, I want to steer my anger to instead inform other women out there on how to not let your guard down and what you need to do should this happen to you!

Whenever you are in a public place, especially in a city, the opportunity for theft is much higher and it is critical for you to be aware of your surroundings at all times and of your property.   This has been quite the learning experience and will be a moment I reflect on any time I question letting me guard down.

What to do if your wallet has been stolen:
  • Cancel each credit card and charge card immediately!  Request new cards with new account numbers!
  • File a police report- ASAP.  Get a copy of the report in case your credit card company, bank or insurance company will want to see proof of the crime.
  • Call one of the major credit bureaus to report your credit cards being stolen: Equifax, Experian or Transunion. 
  • Let your company/office know that your wallet has been stolen so they can notify your insurance agencies.  You will need to reorder your insurance cards and any other health care related cards.
  • Get a new driver's license.  You can bring your police report with you if you want, but it is not required.  Make sure you check to see what identification requirements are needed for you to get a new license. 

Tips on how to avoid this:
  • Don't carry your full wallet with you.  Carry what you need with you when going out in public.  Less is more.
  • Be mindful of the size of purse you carry with you out and about.  Purses with zippers are the best purses to have when out in public.
  • Bring only your credit card- credit card companies can cover any fraudulent charges to your credit cards, but for debit cards, you are on your own.  Any money that is spent from your debit card is LOST money. 
  • Store phone numbers of the banks you use in your cell phone so you have this information readily available should this happen.
  • Keep your account information stored somewhere besides your wallet so you can access this information at any point in time.  I recommend scanning your credit cards and saving a copy somewhere. 
  • Keep your credit cards in a separate card holder instead of your wallet.  This way your wallet only has other things like business cards, may be some cash, etc.
  • Take out items in your wallet before going to public places- if you aren't going to need your gift cards, insurance cards, etc. then why bother taking them with you?  Trust me- it is not worth it.

My biggest shopping problem is that I LOVE purses.  What girl doesn't have this as a shopping problem??  With my love for purses, my biggest weakness is BIG purses. The bigger the better!  After having my wallet stolen out of one of my large totes, I have decided that my big purses are not meant for bars or restaurants.  It is too risky and not worth it in the end.   There are tons of cute purses for these public settings and good for any occasion.  Plus shoulder bags and clutches are a "hot" trend right now!

Here are some functional and stylish purses for bars and public places:

Sutton Signature SwingBack by Coach

Tory Burch- Amanda Crossbody 

Kate Spade- Nylon Jan

BCBGGeneration- Cross Body Bag

Betsy Johnson- Cheetah Babe Crossbody Bag

Jcrew- Glitter Clutch

I hope my tips and advise help you stay aware, prepared and on guard whenever you find yourself in a public setting.  I know it is easy to let your guard down or want to believe that it will never happen to you.   I can tell you I was guilty of this.  I have had friends get their wallets stolen, phones, ipods, purses stolen but I never thought it would happen to me.   I let my guard down because I got caught up in the moment while out at my boyfriends birthday party at a local/dive bar near my apartment, and during my time in between paying for my drinks I ordered and setting my purse on the corner of a chair I was sitting on, someone reached into my purse and successfully took my wallet.  It can happen to anyone, so women especially be prepared and put my tips to use!  I know I will be conscientious of them every time I leave my house.

Have you ever had your wallet stolen??  What did you do?  How did it make you feel?  What lessons did you learn from it?  I would love to hear from you.

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