What To Do When Your Purse Is Stolen


So I wore my not-very-old-and-really-very-much-liked clutch out on Saturday night to our Valentine’s Day extravaganza, and then the next morning, when we were heading out to brunch, had this very specific series of thoughts:

“It’s sort of weird to carry a clutch to brunch.

I feel like I may lose it.

Ooh, muffins.”

So: the clutch came out to brunch with me. But did it come back? Nope.

kenzo clutch

J. Crew Necklace; Zara Dress; Kelly Wearstler Ring; Wayward Kenzo Clutch.

I’m pretty sure it was lifted out of the larger tote I was carrying it in at some point on the walk from brunch to my parents’ apartment, but it’s always possible I just dropped the thing somehow and didn’t notice. Unlikely, but apparently I get very distracted by muffins, so you never know.

Anyway, I spent the next two days monitoring my bank accounts and convincing myself that because my cards hadn’t been touched there was still a chance that it was, like, hidden behind a bed or under a couch cushion or on top of the refrigerator or in some other highly obscure but relatively close-by locale and would turn up eventually.

And then guess what did turn up?

My debit card.

On Dyckman Street. Which is a street located in Washington Heights, which is a part of Manhattan that I haven’t been to in about seven years.

Which means that my clutch spent the remainder of last weekend going on adventures without me.

So: stolen. Okay.

Now what?

What To Do When Your Purse (Or Wallet) Is Lost Or Stolen?

1. Make Sure It’s Actually Gone. Do a little mental backtracking, figure out the last place you’re absolutely certain you had the thing, and call everywhere you’ve been since. Be persistent. I once lost my beloved 5050 boots (don’t ask), called the pizza place where I thought I’d left them, was told nope, not there, and then called back and ohhhh those boots. Yes of course we have those boots.

Of course you do.

2. If It’s Actually Lost (Or Stolen)…Get Over It. It’s a completely unsettling feeling, having something as intimate as your purse or wallet taken, and it’s very weird and upsetting to picture a total stranger rifling through the contents, tossing out things that matter very much to you and appropriating your possessions as their own, but you know what? It’s just stuff. Just stuff. There are many, many worse things that can happen. So the first order of business is to get over it. And then start dealing with it.

3. Start Making Calls. Get on the phone with your credit card companies and bank, and report each and every one of your cards as lost or stolen (do not just cancel them). Go over any transactions that have been made since the card was stolen; chances are you’ll be able to recoup any lost funds. Make sure to reorder new cards, and file claims when necessary.

Just to make your life easier, here are the numbers of the four major credit card companies:

  • MASTERCARD: 1-800-627-8372 (US) or 1-636-722-7111 (Global)
  • VISA: 1-800-VISA-911 (1-800-8472-911) or 1-303-967-1096 (Global, call collect)
  • AMEX: 1-800-528-4800
  • DISCOVER: 1-800-347-2683

4. Put a Fraud Alert On Your AccountsCall up the three major credit-reporting agencies and let them know about the theft, so that they can put an alert in place that lets any creditor know that identity must be verified before they can approve a line of credit. This is majorly, majorly, majorly important to stop thieves from running up massive bills under your name.

  • Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742)
  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
  • Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289

5. Report The Loss (Or Theft) To The Authorities. No, they’re not going to go out and find the guy (or girl); certainly not if you’re in a major metropolitan area, anyway. But this is an important step anyway, because if you end up being a victim of identity theft it’s very helpful to have the incident on record.

6. Now Start Making Lists. Write down everything – and I mean everything – that was in the purse or wallet. My own included a bunch of gift cards (which are essentially cash), an iPad (sigh), various discount and membership cards, some makeup, and a little jewelry that I had taken off at the end of the night. Order replacements for your cards, and file claims when you can (see Step 7).

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7. Get Reimbursed, If Possible. Use the list you made in Step 6 to put together a rough estimate of the value of the contents (and don’t forget to include the value of the wallet or purse itself). If you have apartment or homeowner’s insurance, file a claim – you may be able to recoup at least a portion of your losses.

8. Order A New Driver’s License. No need to go to the DMV these days, thank god; you can just order a new license online for $17.50 (in New York State, at least).

9. Change Those Locks. If your keys were stolen, now is an excellent time to get your locks changed (especially if you had an ID with your address in there with them).

10. Buy A Fancy New Replacement. Because after dealing with a mess like this, you deserve it. (I re-ordered the same wallet I had before because I loved it madly, and am considering this to make me feel less sad about my wayward Kenzo.)

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