A minute ago, your wallet was in your purse or pocket. Now - nothing.
Maybe you left it at the checkout counter, or you were unknowingly relieved of it.
Either way, it's gone, along with everything stashed in there.
You want to start closing your accounts, but you don't know whom or what number to call. That's not surprising. Most folks would be hard-pressed to list everything jammed in their wallets.
When a thief lifted Denise Power's wallet on a crowded Manhattan subway, the 42-year- old Chicago resident was relieved to have a list of contact and account numbers at home.
"I got off and saw that my wallet was gone," Power said. "It was at the end of a really bad day, and I just broke down."
Her list, compiled at the advice of a friend whose wallet had been stolen, told Power exactly whom she needed to call to report her stolen credit cards. The list was a lifesaver.
"You can't think clearly when you are traumatized," Power said.
You may want to consider filing a police report, although there is debate about whether it would do any good.
Your report probably won't attract much attention from investigators, but it could come in handy if you need documentation in case you become a victim of identity theft.
Here's Your Money's version of homeland security alerts on how to react and recover if your wallet goes missing. Planning ahead is the key.
Code blue: on guard
You were smart, and your wallet contains only the basics: one credit card, an ATM card and your driver's license.
That's the approach Brenda Shadle, assistant vice president for security at Virginia Credit Union in Richmond, Va., recommends.
"Don't carry anything you don't have to have on a daily basis," she said.
Doing so just creates a hassle in trying to replace it. If you habitually leave one or two credit cards at home, you still have access to other credit lines when you report a lost card. Sure, most credit issuers can get you a new card the next day, but if you have to close all your accounts, you'll be shut out while waiting.
If you're the really cautious type, consider getting a fraud alert placed on your credit report. One call to credit-reporting bureaus Experian, Equifax or Trans Union will do - they'll call the other two.
A fraud alert will make it tougher for you to establish new credit, but that could be worth the trouble if it prevents someone else from doing the same in your name.
Code yellow: elevated
You have three or more credit cards in your wallet, along with other stuff. More cards in your wallet means more phone calls. Keep a list of your wallet's contents, with contact numbers, and put it in a safe place.
Some companies will make the phone calls for you, for a price. Discover Card Services charges $2.99 a month ($35.88 a year) and American Express $29 a year to keep a log of all of your credit and ATM cards. Of course, you'll have to remember to update your registry every time you get a new card.
Code red: severe
You haul around your entire life in your wallet, including a blank check, Social Security card and every credit card you own. You're in dangerous territory because someone also can start impersonating you and get loans, open up new lines of credit and perpetrate other fraud with your Social Security number and address.
Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Although there's no reason to carry it around, a surprising number of people do: American Express found that 47 percent of the more than 1,000 people it surveyed carry their Social Security cards with them.
Be aware of other cards that also may contain your Social Security number - health insurance card, employee ID and voter registration card - and consider leaving those at home.
Lorene Yue is a Your Money staff writer.