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Reduce The Hassle Of Losing Your Wallet

When away from home, on business or vacation, one of the worst things that can happen is to have your wallet lost or stolen. The Early Show's consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen has some helpful hints on how to deal with the problem and what you can do before the trip to minimize a possible problem.

Before leaving, Koeppen recommends making two photocopies of everything, including passports and credit cards, and writing down crucial phone numbers. One set of copies should be left with a trusted family friend or relative; the other you should keep in your carry-on. Once you check in to your hotel, keep the copies and other valuables in the in-room safe (if available).

Koeppen also recommends being a "minimalist" when it comes to taking along important documents. That means you should bring along only one or two credit cards, a minimum amount of cash — and leave your Social Security card at home.

If your wallet is stolen while on the road, there are a few things you should do immediately: Call and report the loss to your credit card, ATM card and insurance companies. Thieves can use all of these cards. Many credit card companies will work with you to get you a replacement card within 24 hours.

It's also a good idea to file a police report. If you are traveling in a foreign country, Koeppen suggests you immediately get into touch with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to work on getting a new passport and ID. It's always a good idea to write down embassy phone numbers and addresses before you embark on your trip.

Once back from your trip, make a trip to the DMV to get a new license and make sure you call the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) to check on irregularities on your credit report. You should have the agencies red flag your account, which means it will be much harder for crooks to get credit in your name.