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Teen Life Skills: What to Do When You Lose Something of Value

Before teenagers leave home, for college or otherwise, they should know what to do when they lose something—especially an important something—so that they don’t have to call you in tears. Here are some ideas to share with your teenager.

First, when your teen is confronted with a situation when they have lost something significant, suggest that they take a deep breath to calm down and stop panicking. And then suggest these steps: Think about where you left the item; try visualizing where you last saw it. What were you doing? Retrace your steps and think of where you’ve been since you had the object last. If you search every pocket and countertop and still cannot locate the item, then it may be time to act quickly to mitigate any further damage.

What To Do When You Lose Your Wallet

If your teen has lost their wallet, take the following precautions. For an ATM/debit card, the first phone call should be to the bank. Most banks will charge a maximum of $50 for any unauthorized withdrawals in the first two business days after you report a missing or lost card. Similarly, for a credit card, go to the issuer’s website and locate the telephone number for reporting lost or stolen debit cards, credit cards, or checkbooks. First, the bank will ask you to verify the most recent charges on the card. Then they will issue you a new card with different digits, and investigate any false charges.

What To Do When You Lose Your Driver’s License

Most states have a department of motor vehicles website with instructions for how to report a lost or stolen license if you are out of state or unable to get to a physical office location. It’s important to know that if you operate a car without having your license, you may face penalties and fines (up to and including the police impounding your motor vehicle and arresting you). Be sure to check your state’s regulations.

What To Do When You Lose Your Phone

The easiest way to find your lost phone is to call it from another phone. Or you might consider texting some contact information to your phone so that anyone who finds it will know how to reach you. If you have an iPhone, use the “Find my iPhone” app to locate your phone. The app, however, only works if the phone is turned on and connected to the Internet. If all else fails, contact your service provider. Some providers have GPS location services available to customers. If not, they can at least cut off (or temporarily put a hold on) service to your phone.

What To Do When You Lose Your Laptop

When it comes to losing things, losing your computer can be devastating and expensive. If you haven’t downloaded an anti-theft program like Prey—which allows you to remotely gather information about a lost computer, including photos of who may be using it and its precise location—it may be harder to recover valuable items like a laptop. Contact the local police department to file a report. That way, if your laptop is found, it can be returned. Plus if you are filing an insurance claim, you will need to have filed a police report first. If you have renters’ insurance, consult your policy to see whether it provides electronics coverage and replacement cost for a new laptop. If you don’t have renters’ insurance, then ask your parents whether you are covered under their homeowners’ insurance.

What To Do When You Lose Your Car Keys

A reputable locksmith can make you a new car key and will charge less than a dealership for replacement keys. A locksmith will ask for some information about your vehicle, including the year, make, model, and VIN number. Be prepared to show proof of ownership, such as a picture ID, along with either your vehicle title or registration papers.

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Jane Parent, former editor at Your Teen, is the parent of three.

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