Finally, after months of planning and saving, you've finally done it – you've finally made it to the sunny shores of California for a much-needed vacation. You've picked up your Los Angeles rental car reservation, checked into you beachside hotel, and are about to spend the afternoon lounging next to the ocean. Until you realize something is missing. No, you haven't forgotten your suntan lotion; you've gone and left your wallet somewhere. And in it is all of your identification, including your driver's license.
So much for a relaxing vacation, right?
Losing your license can definitely put a damper on any Los Angeles rental car occasion; what's more, a stolen license can provide a criminal with enough information to effectively steal your identity and cause you long-term trouble. So don't waste any time feeling sorry for yourself. The faster you can take action and report your lost identification, the sooner you can get back to enjoying your Los Angeles rental car vacation.
Time is of the Utmost Importance
The quicker you respond to the situation, the better your outcome will be. The longer you leave your lost ID out there, unreported, the more time criminals will have to steal your information and your identity. After executing a thorough search for your lost wallet (check any pockets in your clothing or compartments in your Los Angeles rental car, just to be safe), it's time to take action.
First, assess what's gone missing. If you've lost your entire wallet, chances are you've also lost your bankcard, credit cards, health insurance card and perhaps even your Social Security card. If this is the case, you're going to need to cancel everything and request new copies.
Of course, identity theft can mean more than a few unauthorized charges, however. ID forgers are crafty and can use your identity to cover for a number of illegal activities, endangering your finances, your future and in some cases, even your life. Protect yourself and take the proper steps to report your lost or stolen identification immediately.
Reporting the Loss to the Police
Filing a police report is the quickest and most effective way to protect yourself from identity fraud. This is because a police report triggers a paper trail. This paper trail can then be used to prove your innocence to credit card companies, banks an even other law enforcement agencies if you're suddenly linked to something suspicious. So first things first: find the quickest way to file your report. This could be online, in person, or over the phone. When filing the report, try and be as specific as possible about what happened. The most insignificant detail could help police officers locate your ID. Finally, be sure to obtain a copy of the report for yourself. You'll want to keep this handy incase you need to reference is later.
Contact an Identity Theft Protection Service
If you're not already a member of a theft identify protection company, now's the time to make the call. These services can place fraud alerts on your accounts and your identification, letting you know if ever someone tries to use your identity without your permission. These services can also freeze your credit report while also monitoring your accounts for any suspicious activity.
Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles
It's always a good idea to notify the DMV that you've lost your license. This way, they can flag your identification in case another driver gets pulled over and tries to pass your license off as his or her own. Reporting your lost license to the DMV will also ensure that a replacement license is requested on your behalf. Just remember to stop at the bank first so you can take out some cash. Replacement licenses will often cost you a few bucks.
When requesting a replacement license, be sure to ask the agent for a temporary paper license to use in the meantime. Driving your Los Angeles rental car without a valid driver's license is illegal in California so, unless you have a temporary license, it's best to avoid too much driving in your Los Angeles rental car. In some cases, you might be able to use your driving record as proof of valid licensure, but that isn't always the case. Check with the local DMV or law enforcement agency first.
Last but not least, remember to keep a close eye on your finances over the next few weeks. If anything out of the ordinary pops up on your bank statement or credit card bill, don't wait to take action. If an unknown number starts calling your phone, pick it up. It could be a collections agency calling to collect on an account that a criminal has fraudulently created.
Losing your license certainly does stink. However, with some quick thinking and timely action, you can still protect yourself from any long-term damage.