I go to Intergroom in New Jersy almost every year. I enjoy that show tremendously and I love taking a tour into NYC while we are there. I try to do that every time we go to visit a landmark, or museum, and this year was no exception.
My husband went with me and we decided that since he had not been to the Statue of Liberty in over 50 years it was time for him to revisit and see what had changed. We went to Ellis Island even though we knew the full museum wasn't open yet after the damage from Hurricane Sandy, and were planning on going to the Statue of Liberty and had pedestal access tickets bought.
Well, it was colder than we expected and so when we got to Liberty Island we went right to the gift shop to see if we could get a hoodie or sweatshirt because we were turning into popsicles!
Well, while we were in the gift shop I decided to look at our tickets to see if there was a time we were supposed to be at the statue and realized my wallet was gone from my purse.
After a brief moment of panic, I looked at my husband to see if he had it and then after realizing he didn't we discussed where I had seen it last. I had seen it at Ellis Island when getting my camera out to take a picture out of a window in the reception hall.
SO we stood in line for the ferry and went back to Ellis Island hoping against hope that my wallet had been found and turned in.
I was so upset. There was no cash in it thankfully, but it had both my GA ID and my DL, my voter ID card, my SS card and three of my four debit cards, my personal check book and 4 business checks. My health insurance information and my concealed carry permit were also in there. I was beginning to realize how much deep doo doo I was in when we got off the ferry. Reality was setting in big time.
No one had turned it in and it had been about an hour. I checked every account and not one of them had been used (or attempted to be used) so I was feeling better. We filled out a park police report for the wallet and gave them my cell phone number should it turn up.
We talked to the crew of the ferry who had found one wallet but it wasn't mine.
We went BACK to Liberty Island and filed a report there with the park police as well. I transferred all the money from my business account into my personal account and proceeded to call the bank and cancel the cards that were in my wallet and logged into PayPal to cancel my card there as well. While we ate lunch we made all those calls. It was not a fun way to spend time with Lady Liberty!
We had left one debit card in GA with my sone (i do that all the time when I travel) and it was a linked account to my business card which was lost with my wallet. Chuck also had his PayPal Debit card in his pocket. So my son was able to get us money from my personal account and go to Dollar General and get a PayPal reload card and put money on it so that we would be able to get home.
We headed back to Intergroom and got there just in time to see the awards for Sporting. My dogs who were being used didn't place, but since we were having such a bad day that was ok. They both looked fabulous.
We decided to head home the next day rather than stick around since we were now extremely tight on money when we were not expecting to be. I worked out in my head what i needed to do to get my ID replaced once I got home and it was going to be a big problem since my SS card was in my wallet and GA has tightened its requirements to get a new ID. I was worried about how long I would be without a drivers license and with no ID I couldnt unfreeze my bank account.
Monday Morning my son called me and was a bit giddy which is funny for him. turns out my wallet HAD been found at Ellis Island and instead of calling my cell phone they called my SHOP in Sunday morning while I was still packing up my car. I could have gone to Ellis Island to get it if they had simply called the number on the police report, but they hadn't. I was utterly relieved that they said everything seemed to be in place except cash, and I laughed because there was no cash to begin with.
I relaxed big time for the rest of the ride home.
The park service did return my wallet to me via overnight FedEx.
NOW the reason I wrote this is to share with you what I have learned about protecting myself against this type of thing from happening again.
#1 NEVER carry everything with you when you go sightseeing! Leave everything except a picture ID and ONE debit card in your hotel room. I usually do that but for some reason I chose not to that day. In fact, in the car I was thinking, you really should leave your purse here and only take what you NEED but didn;t listen to that inner voice.
#2 NEVER EVER EVER carry your SS card in your wallet! You will need it if you lose your DL or ID to get a new one.
#3 If your state allows you to have both and ID and a DL, then get BOTH and keep the ID in a security box at your home or your office. Put your state issued photo id with a certified copy of your birth certificate and ss card in a secure location and you will have photo and legal ID should you need it. Mine are NOW in an envelope in a lock box at the grooming shop along with copies of my voter ID card and my weapons permit.
#4 If you have to carry a purse carry a crossover bag with a built in wallet. That way you are not likely to knock your wallet out when taking out your phone or camera (like I did).
This is the type of bag I am referring to:
#5 ALWAYS have a debit card with someone at home so that if you lose your debit card someone can access money for you.
#6 Paypal or prepaid debits cards will save your life in a situation like this, so make sure you have one or both in your possession. I keep a prepaid card that I don't use in my glove compartment for just this type of emergency. If I had been by myslef my son could have put money on my prepaid card.
#7 keep checks OUT of the wallet! If you have checks in your wallet and lose it then your bank is going to freeze the account and you will not have access to money until you can go into a branch and prove you are who you say you are....which is hard to do when you have no ID because you lost your wallet.
#8, make sure you have an ICE (in case of emergency) card filled out in your wallet along with your cell phone number, just in case the national park service finds your wallet and needs to get in touch with you.
#9, keep a copy of your debit cards in a secure location or at least the numbers and expiration date. When we called to cancel our WellsFargo card we had to have that number to cancel it and since we didn't have it we had to have other information, like the last deposit and the last PIN transaction as well as other information.
#10 VERIFY that your cards were actually CANCELLED! We found out ten days later that WF had not cancelled our card when we called to find out why we had not yet gotten a replacement. We would have been in a world of hurt if the wallet had been stolen and not found by the park service!
Hopefully you will never have this happen, but if you do and you have listened to me, you will be able to replace everything much faster and easier with your ID and SS card in a safe secure place.
Next time I go to NYC we have to go back to the Statue of Liberty because Chuck still hasn't been into the statue in over 50 years....but you can bet your sweet bippy my wallet will not go along for the ride! It spent way more time there than we did.