Imagine as you reach for your wallet to pay the cabbie his fare, you get a call you can't say no to. With your attention diverted (multi-tasking is for the Martians), you manage to drop your wallet. Two hours later when you reach for it, it is already too late. The cold sweat of panic begins to creep through the nervous system. Given that your wallet carries some of the most important parts of your life in the form of credit and debit cards, Permanent Account Number (PAN) card, driving licence, the registration certificate (RC) of your car and the office ID, panic is the right emotion.
How to rebuild the contents of your wallet?
To reconstruct the contents of a wallet is a painful process — both in terms of the paperwork and the time taken. It helps if you'd had the foresight to keep photocopies of all the cards and other documents. But the process for rebuilding the wallet will always begin with a visit to the local police station.
"If you lose your wallet, it's important that you report it to the police," said AB Shinde, inspector, Byculla Police Station, Mumbai. "We will take down the First Information Report (FIR) about the loss and then give you a lost certificate. You can use this lost certificate to apply for important documents which you have lost."
Take a few copies of this document for you will need it to rebuild the contents of your wallet.
Credit and debit cards
Though a visit to the police station is the most important step after you have lost your wallet, blocking your credit and debit cards is equally important. The cash you should mentally write off, of course. The chase now is to damage control.
"A customer can contact our 24x7 card blocking desk by just calling the local phone-banking number or logging on to net banking and hotlist the card," said Navtej Singh, head, direct payment products, HDFC Bank Ltd. "The card is blocked or hotlisted immediately."
The process for most other banks is no different. What if you can't remember your card number? Relax, the voice on the phone, after the verification of your identity, will pull out the card details. The cards can get blocked in a matter of minutes. You could use the opportunity to place a request for new cards. Some banks may need a branch visit for this. For between Rs. 100 and Rs. 150, depending on your bank, you'll soon begin to feel your wallet getting heavier again.
The next most important document that you need in a hurry is the driving licence. This will be less easy than the new cards. You'll need to visit your local Regional Transport Office and begin the process of a duplicate driving licence. You'll need an affidavit (sworn by you before an executive magistrate or a first class judicial magistrate or a notary public for having lost the driving licence), forms and other supporting documents.
If you were carrying your PAN card around, this is the next card you need to resurrect. What if you don't remember your PAN? Visit https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/portal/knowpan.do. Fill in the required details and see the face of your PAN card again. You will fill the "request for new PAN card or/and changes or correction in PAN" form even if you have lost the card. You will have to submit a copy of the FIR with the application. You can make an online application at https://tin.tin.nsdl.com/pan/index.html, submit the relevant supporting documents, affix your latest photograph, and for around Rs. 100 you will get the new PAN in mail within a few weeks. Keep in mind that you opt for "no change in PAN option", or else you will have to inform your employer, chartered accountant and financial adviser about the change in the PAN so that your income-tax papers could get updated accordingly. "I was lucky," said Pankaj Sharma, a Mumbai-based private sector employee, who was a victim of wallet theft a few months back. "Though I lost the money, I received my credit card, PAN card and driving licence through post sent by an anonymous sender. Thankfully, I had not applied for a new PAN until then." If he would have applied, he would have had to surrender the old PAN. Keep in mind that having more than one PAN card is illegal. The other cards in the wallet will need the same process. You must inform the company and then follow the process to get a new card.