10 Critical Things to Do If Your Purse is Stolen

Written by Briana Cavanaugh

March 11, 2013

Some of you heard that my purse was stolen this week. I am ok, there was no physical confrontation – in fact it was my fault. I was out with an amazing NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) practitioner Chris English doing a session to re-wire the way I think and I left my purse on a park bench when we were done. By the time I went back, not 5 minutes later, it was gone.

It had all my cards in it, my cell phone, my id’s, and a million little odds and purse lost in the sandends. Having just gone through this on a smaller scale in December you’d think I would have learned something.  I had a moment yesterday of thinking that what I learned is to never leave the house again.  Since I don’t want to become Raj Koothrappali from a recent episode of Big Bang Theory, I think I’ll skip that bit. Instead I took action to do what needed to be done and found ways to be grateful and keep the damaging self-talk at bay.

Because I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I’ve been going through, I also created a list of things that I am am doing differently right now.  Hopefully you can benefit from my mistake.

  1. Have at least $200 cash on hand in my house. With all my cards and my identification lost I couldn’t just go and replace the cash I had in my purse and I couldn’t access a bank or ATM until I went through the arduous process of cancelling everything and showing up at a branch in person. But if I’d had some cash on hand I could replace my cell phone immediately, put gas in my car and feed us for a couple of days  without worry (longer if you don’t have a teenaged boy at home).
  2. Password protect my smart phone. I have a bunch of apps on my phone as well as being logged into my email. But I hadn’t put a password on my phone because I don’t go anywhere without it. Well, anywhere other than leaving it on park benches, I guess. Because I didn’t do that I had change my email pass words, PayPal password and banking passwords, and review every log in that’s important to me to make sure that I don’t accidentally leave some access for the thief. I wasn’t logged into my banking apps, but I changed them just to be safe.
  3. Pull my receipts out of my purse every day. I run a business, I need my receipts. But I have been on the system recently where I pull those receipts when it’s convenient or when the pouch is full (it’s one of my rebellions).  But if I’d pulled them I would have the check copies of my last deposit, which I didn’t record in advance because I’d have that receipt.
  4. Clean out your purse or bag often. I also had one of my favorite scarfs in there, make up from an event the other night, and other odds and ends. Low cost stuff that will make up probably about $300 or so of replacement costs.
  5. Listen to my intuition. When I put the strap of my purse on the arm of the bench, a small voice said, “Don’t put your purse there, you’ll lose it. Put it between you.” And I didn’t listen. If I had put it where my intuition said, even Chris would have seen it and I would still have it.

On the other hand there are things that I did right. You can learn from my success as well!

  1. Have insurance. I have renter’s insurance that covers my personal belongings (home owners can cover the same stuff). So whether it’s my purse or my laptop, whether it’s my fault, my stupidity or I’m robbed, I’m covered – after my $250 deductible. It even covers the stuff that gets stolen when my car get broken into that my car insurance doesn’t. It’s been a lifesaver more than once.
  2. Carry only basic identification. I don’t usually carry my passport or with me unless I have to. And as it turns out that’s a great thing. Having that extra identification at home meant that I could go to the bank and get some money and start the process of getting a temporary ATM card.
  3. Don’t carry a lot of cash. I had $80 on me. But the last time I had my wallet stolen I had $360 in cash and a couple hundred in gift cards because it was the holidays. Renter’s insurance doesn’t cover cash or cash equivalents so that was an expensive mistake.
  4. Don’t leave passwords on your phone. Don’t leave yourself signed into that banking app or PayPal app anything that could be used to get money from you.  I know it’s a pain to enter that password every time you want to check your bank balance, but it could save you a world of hurt.
  5. Cancel stuff – Act fast. Call the banks first. As long as you’re in a safe place (not standing on the freeway having just been hit by a car or something) call the banking institutions first. That both limits what the thieves can get and also limits your liability. They all have limits on how long you can wait before calling them and how much they cover. The faster you handle that, the less the likelihood that anyone can access your money. Call the cell phone company and get the line suspended, and have them turn the phone into a paperweight.

I would love to hear your tips and what you’ve learned – post them below! I’ll put the best ones into a new post and share it once we have 10 great ones.


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