There is not much worse when you are traveling than finding out your ID and credit cards have all gone missing. That nightmare scenario played out for me on trip #16 to NY, NJ, and PA as we toured Ellis Island adjacent to the Statue of Liberty. After an extensive walking tour learning about how new immigrants were processed once they arrived, we headed to the gift shop. I remember giving Joel some money for a squish penny and that's the last time I recalled seeing my small metal wallet. Apparently I forgot to zip my fanny pack and it tumbled out unbeknownst to me. I didn't realize it until we attempted to get to our next stop and frantically searched in vain. We raced back to the Statue Cruises dock and spoke with security who took my name and number. The security officer did offer some hope that it might be found but advised me to cancel or freeze my credit cards and cancel my ATM cards to be safe....Ugh....and so the drama began. Here's how we managed to move on with the rest of our trip and get back home and through airport security in spite of losing my wallet and how you can too if you find yourself in this very stressful situation.
1. Credit Cards-I strongly suggest at least two folks in your group have credit cards on them in case one person's is lost or stolen. Luckily both Lilia and Joel had brought their credit cards that are issued to them on my account and it truly saved our trip. Call the customer service number (Using our phones we were able to get the customer service #'s online), speak with the fraud department and tell them you want to temporarily freeze your card (the ones in my name only that were lost so no sense in shutting down the entire account and we desperately needed to have access to my kid's cards which they still had on them). In case there still is an outside chance your wallet might show up you don't want to deal with the hassle of a brand new number. In the event your wallet doesn't show up after say about a week, you can go ahead and cancel the accounts and get a new number.
2. ATM/Debit cards-Call your bank and explain the situation and tell them you want to cancel your ATM/Debit cards and have new ones issued and sent to your home (mine were waiting for me when I got back). If you need cash for the remainder of your trip like we did, head to the nearest branch of your bank-hopefully it's a national one like B of A or Wells Fargo. Go to the teller and explain your situation. They will ask you a bunch of questions to confirm your identity and once they're satisfied you are you, will allow you to withdraw funds. At some banks they may even be able to issue you a temporary ATM/Debit card on the spot if you've got about 15 minutes to wait.
3. ID-Not much you can do about this except pray that no one tries to snatch your identity. In terms of driving, you are still techinically a licensed driver. I would strongly urge you to memorize your license number. I know mine by heart and figured if I got pulled over for whatever reason I could at least explain my situation and recite my number. But, things will get tricky once you get to the airport if flying home is part of your itinerary. Here's what you're in for if you don't have your ID (and remember, you are not the first person this has happened to...you will get home).
4. Dealing with TSA- Inform the folks at the ticket counter of your predicament, but most likely they will tell you it's all up to TSA. So get your boarding passes and head to security. Here's the run down of what happened to me and in the awful event you find yourself in this situation, at least you'll know what to expect. Be prepared to prove who you are and remember that's going to take some time, so make sure you give yourself at least an extra hour to make sure you make your flight. It really helped that I was with my three kids and we all have the same last name, and though as teens there are often times they don't want to be associated with me, in this instance they vouched for my identity. The most important thing I can tell you is that attitude is everything! Be humble, kind and grateful for their help.
Once I got to the officer who checks the ID's and boarding passes I explained our situation they instantly called for a supervisor. I explained how I lost everything and she explained there was a procedure and if I passed everything would be ok. She took the kids and I to the side and then called a special number to some sort of central command. The agent asked her questions that she in turn asked me.-Previous addresses, employment, names and birth dates of relatives and other numbers such as your license # and when it expires (this is why you want to memorize this stuff!!!)
After we got the green light from the agent that I answered the questions correctly, I had to sign a form and then move into the security screening. Our agent took us to the head of the line, sent all my gear through the scanner and then tested and opened every single piece I had with me. They also gave me an entire pat down from head to toe-yep, across the chest and up the thighs (by a woman agent of course). I was happy to comply if it would get me and my kids home on time. Thank G-d we made it through with flying colors. So remember, if you lose your ID, it's not the end of the road, you can and will get home-just answer all their questions, be patient and cooperative, and super nice.
And by the way in case you were wondering, our story did have a happy ending. We received a call about halfway through our trip that my wallet had been found. Everything was inside and untouched. The clerk for the National Park Service mailed it back to me and it too arrived home before we did. What a relief, and thankfully, I had only froze my credit cards and not cancelled them. I called and had them unfrozen and all is back to normal. Want to know what's even crazier? As we waited by the gate, Isaac found someone's lost wallet and turned it in to the gate attendant immediately. As I always tell my kids, you can never have enough good Karma!!!