Losing your license is the worst! If you’re lucky, you’ve got annoying few days ahead of you applying for a replaced license. If you’re not so lucky, you can have months, maybe even years, of sorting out identity theft issues. Hopefully, these seven steps below will help you avoid being one of the unlucky ones.
Make Sure Your License Is Actually Missing
Okay. Hasn’t this happened to us all? You’re convinced your license is lost because it’s not in its usual place like your wallet or purse, so you immediately begin to worry that you’ve left it somewhere inappropriate. But wait a second. Breathe. Retrace your steps and check the easy places for a license to get lost first (i.e. your couch, your car or your laundry basket). After you’re certain that the license is really missing, check to see if anything else is missing like your wallet, credit cards, social security card and any document that you think is likely to be near your license.
Notify Important Financial Companies
If you aren’t a member of an identify theft protection service, notify your bank, your credit card companies, your health insurance provider and/or the Social Security Administration. Let them know you have lost your license and ask what protective services they can offer to you. Someone who has found or stolen your license will be able, potentially, to drain your bank account, open new credit card accounts, take out loans in your name and/or accrue medical and utility bills in your name. This may not be the most likely consequence of a lost license, but wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry.
Report Your Lost License To The Police
Report your lost license to the police. This will help you prove to credit card companies, banks and law enforcement that your license was stolen if any issues arise as a result of the lost license. For example, if any erroneous credit card charges appear on your credit card bill, you’ll have a better chance of proving those charges are fraudulent if you can demonstrate that you lost your license and someone might have stolen your identity. You may be able to report your lost license online, in person or over the phone. Choose the quickest and most convenient way for you to do so. And make sure you obtain a copy of the police report. Remember not to drive anywhere without a license.
Report The Lost License To An Identity Theft Protection Service
If you lose your license (or an important form of identification like social security card), you need to contact your identity theft protection service and/or look into what steps you can to protect yourself from having your identity stolen. Place fraud alerts on your account. Freeze your credit score, which essentially makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. Most creditors need to see your credit report before they approve a new account. If they are unable to see a credit report, they, at the very least, will make the process more difficult for the applicant.
Notify Your Local DMV
Contact your nearest DMV branch either in person or online. Apply for a duplicate license. If your license was about to expire you might also be able to renew your driver’s license instead of applying for a duplicate. In some instances, renewing your license might be easier.
Watch Out For Signs Of Identity Theft
Even after you’ve frozen your credit score and you’ve set up fraud alerts, you should still monitor your credit score to ensure new accounts have not been made in your name. Answer your phone when unrecognized numbers call you. The person calling could be a creditor or a representative from a collection agency. It also could be a good idea to run a criminal background on yourself to see if any warrants are out in your name. Sounds extreme, but, as we always say, better safe than sorry.