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Ten Tips for Dealing With a Lost Wallet

Written by Nickel - 22 Comments

Since I’ve recently written about dealing with found money, I thought I’d go ahead and share some thoughts about what to do if you find yourself on the other side of the situation, having lost your wallet.

1. Try to remember when you last had your wallet. This really goes without saying, but if you can remember specific points during the day when you definitely had your wallet, you should be able to narrow down the list of places where you might have lost it.

2. Check your clothes. Try to remember what you were wearing when you last remember having your wallet, and check your pockets. This goes for outerwear, too. Perhaps you slipped it into a jacket pocket when you normally wear it in your pants?

3. Check your car – or anywhere else you sit for length periods of time. I can’t count the number of times my wallet has fallen out during a long car ride, especially if I’m wearing pants with loose pockets. The same goes for finding my wallet on the floor behind my chair at work. Also be sure to double check when you get up to leave from the theater.

4. Enlist the help of those around you. Ask any friends or family that might be around if they’ve seen your wallet. Also consider asking them to help you look for it. You never know… A fresh (and unbiased) set of eyes might just spot it in a place where you’re sure it couldn’t be.

5. Call around and ask. Generate a list of places you’ve been since you last remember having your wallet and start dialing. Call restaurants, theaters, stores, etc. and ask if anyone has turned in a lost wallet. You might also consider checking with the police to see if anyone has turned in a wallet with a matching description.

6. Return to the scene of the crime. If you’ve been able to narrow down where you might’ve lost it, go back and have a look around. Phone calls are great, but it’s also possible that someone found it and posted a sign looking for the rightful owner.

7. Post signs of your own… And offer a reward. While you’re re-visiting spots where you might have lost it, consider posting signs of your own. You might also consider offering a reward. Let’s face it. People are lazy (and not always honest). The easiest course of action is to pocket the money in your wallet and then toss it in the trash. Offering them a bit of cash might be enough to prompt them to do the right thing and get in touch with you.

8. Go dumpster diving. If you’re hell bent on finding your wallet, you might also consider checking in dumpsters and trash cans in and around areas where you think you lost it. There’s a chance that someone picked it up, pocketed the cash, and then tossed it in the trash. Finding it, even sans cash, would be a huge time (and worry) saver. The odds are against you, but it couldn’t hurt to try.

If it still hasn’t turned up at this point, then you’ll want to proceed with damage control…

9. Start calling banks and credit card issuers. This is especially important for debit cards, which have less in the way of fraud protection and limited financial liability. But even with credit cards, it’s important to notify the issuer and get the old card numbers cancelled and have new cards issued as soon as possible. If you’re in the habit of carrying bank account numbers with you, you’ll also want to talk to the bank about that.

10. Take steps to protect your identity. Hopefully you were smart enough to leave things like your social security card at home, but… Even still, there’s a risk that you might become the victim of identity theft. Once you’ve notified your banks, you should also consider placing a security alert on your credit report. This warns potential creditors to take extra steps to insure the identity of the application when handling application with your name on it. If you suspect your wallet was stolen, you should also consider notifying the police and filing a report.

So there you have it… A set of quick tips for dealing with a lost wallet. Please feel free to chime in and leave a comment suggesting ideas of your own.

Published on October 4th, 2007 - 22 Comments
Filed under: Identity Theft, Miscellany

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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22 Responses to “Ten Tips for Dealing With a Lost Wallet”

  1. 1
    vh Says:

    BEFORE you lose your wallet, take out all your cards, including your insurance card, employer ID cards, etc., and photocopy them front and back. Then you don’t have to rack your brain to try to remember what you had in it.

    Also, I give fake names and phone numbers for supermarket & pet store cards. Probably no thieves can do much through those little privacy-invaders…but just in case. While it keeps marketers from snooping into your private life, it also gives you one extra safeguard, I suppose.

  2. 2
    Patrick Szalapski Says:

    Look on high shelves (such as in the closet), or in things on high shelves. One in awhile, I’ve set things on high shelves while doing something else; one time, I didn’t find the item until three years later.

    You end up searching everywhere–you think–because you don’t think it would be up on that shelf you can’t even see, or in that game or basket up in there!

    A corollary to this is: never set things down on high shelves!

  3. 3
    MoneyNing Says:

    This brings back memories… Growing up, I’ve probably lost my wallet 10 times. I lose them so many times I can write a blog entry on how to effectively lose my wallet.

  4. 4
    Blaine Moore Says:

    Here’s a tip to keep from losing your wallet: Don’t put it in your back pocket, put it in a front pocket instead. Not only is it less likely to fall out of your pocket, it is harder to pick and it is better for your back to not be sitting on it all day.

  5. 5
    Sue Says:

    Great tips. I’ve been through the pain of losing an entire purse, right after payday. A few other tips you might want to add are: 1) Don’t carry a checkbook around. If you do make sure you always know the last check # you used and tell the bank/credit union immediately. 2) Don’t forget to cancel your library card because you are liable for anything checked out on your card even if you are not the one who checked the item out. Replacing DVD’s, CD’s, etc. will be very expensive. 3) Cancel your grocery savings key cards. If the thieves try to cash a check & the store has your name and account already on fraud alert or cancellation they might be able to delay them until the police arrive.

  6. 6
    Walt Padabney Says:

    Here are my thoughts…If I don’t know for certain that I’ve had it somewhere on my personal property since its last siting… then I call first the card companies first for suspending.. then look… Its much easier to live without credit for a week than to dispute even 1 fraud charge later.

  7. 7
    Xias Says:

    While I’ve never lost my wallet, I’ll be sure to keep this bookmarked just in case it does happen in the future! *knocks on wood* Hopefully I won’t ever have to use it!

  8. 8
    SingleGuyMoney Says:

    Luckily, I have never lost my wallet either but I too will be sure to remember this.

  9. 9
    Paul Says:

    Comment #1 by vh is spot-on. The best way to avoid ID theft is to plan for it in advance.

  10. 10
    bunny Says:

    i once found a wallet in a parking lot and mailed it back to the address on the drivers license using the money that was inside. it took me a few weeks to get around to doing this, though, which i felt bad about.

  11. 11
    Harrison Says:

    I lost my wallet 3 months ago. Someone had broken into my car and stole my wallet when I was going for swimming. So the first thing I did is inform the local security department for my cases and then report to police. After that I called my bank toll free number and cancel all my cards.

  12. 12
    Personal Checks Unlimited Says:

    On the checkbook note, if you do carry one around you just might have someone pick it up and be stupid enough to use it. You could at least keep up with your wallet’s travels…

  13. 13
    MyEmptyCanvas Says:

    Carrying around as little as possible would help. Especially with the ladies. My motto is: “If it can’t fit in your pocket (preferably the front pocket without a lot of bulge) then you do not need it.” I know to many women that carry about these big purses. All the make-ups, perfumes, lip glosses you tote around are unnecessary. (To me, it’s like they’re asking to be robbed these days – with the high rate in crimes happening). I can’t stress it enough. Best thing I tell people is to carry around your best credit card (that you can spend the most money using so you know you have enough money to buy anything you may stumble upon) and not carry around a lot of cash. Most places these days accept major credit cards with I.D. so bring your license. Then all you need are your keys and celly. If you still get robbed or can’t locate your items that you’ve somehow lost then there’s only a few calls to make instead of 10+ places. Plain and simple… carry less.
    -MEC

  14. 14
    mysteryman Says:

    need help! i lost my wallet!

  15. 15
    Jarel Says:

    ah i lost my wallet somehwere at school, or possibly in the parking lot about a week ago…still hasn’t showed up =(…

  16. 16
    S Meyer Says:

    I lost my wallet yesterday after having it at work all day long. I’m pretty sure I didn’t lose it at work but I’ve torn my house apart looking for it. I’m convinced one of my cats ate it, or perhaps my house is infested with a really obnoxious poltergeist. Well, I’m going to keep looking. Thanks for all the tips listed above.

  17. 17
    JOsh Says:

    I was riding my bike around the city today (I do the crazy street stuff) and I just noticed about an hour ago that it was gone. I’ve already turned my house upside down, and am convinced that it fell out of my pocket whilst riding. I covered close to 20 square miles today, and am pretty much screwed. Any thoughts on how to find it? I have some veery important stuff in there, such as a birth certificate, alberta healthcare card, and my SIN number…

  18. 18
    Sy Says:

    Good Advice
    One thing that is overlooked: Every article on the subject that I read advises to not carry a social security card. The problem for older people is that we must carry our medicare card and our medicare number is our social security number. How does one get around that?

  19. 19
    Delaney Smith Says:

    I just lost my wallet. checked everywhere and anywhere and can’t find it called every store ive been to and what not and nothing.. i have a feeling looking for something else of mine might help me find tmy wallet because i probably will look places i wouldn’t look normally

  20. 20
    J Sarles Says:

    IF YOU LOSE YOUR WALLET LOOK ON YOUR ROOF. YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE THE NUMBER OF TIMES I LEFT MY WALLET ON MY ROOF AND FORGOT THAT I WAS ON THE ROOF! ALSO: IF YOU LOSE YOUR WALLET SOMETIMES IT WOULDN’T HURT TO CALL THE POLICE AND ASK IF THEY HAVE ANY REPORTS ON SUSPICIOUS GROCERY SAVINGS KEY CARD ACTIVITY IN THE VICINITY OF YOUR ROOF! A THIEF MIGHT HAVE STOLEN YOUR WALLET AND THEN TRIED TO RETURN LIBRARY BOOKS TO YOUR LOCAL GROCERY STORE, SO BE SURE TO CALL YOUR LIBRARY AND CANCEL YOUR LIBRARY CARD AND ALSO CLOSE YOUR ACCT!! ALSO: DIG A VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY DEEP HOLE AND LOOK THERE TO SEE IF YOU LEFT IT THERE THE LAST TIME YOU DUG A HOLE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING ELSE YOU LOST! THESE BITS OF INFORMATION MIGHT LEAD TO YOU BEING REUNITED WITH YOUR WALLET!

  21. 21
    Mercy Says:

    Gosh just got home can’t find my wallet have $340 cash so as bank card inside..everything you name it…please i just need help to find it already file a police report still waiting..lost in tacoma wa-walgreens on pacific ave with 88th street…thanks everybody for the tips…BLess you all..

  22. 22
    Nick Says:

    just lost my wallet this morning at the gas pump. started the pump and jumped back in and out when the pump was done. It must have fallen out when I exited my vehicle. Didn’t look back and drove off. Didn’t notice until I was at work and had training all day! Finally had the wife go to gas station and had manager review video. No video of gas pumps, wth… Well posted ads on craigslist lost and found and thinking about a ad in local newspaper, but that cost $22. Drivers license, work id, ss card, bank cards, 250 cash, and club cards… all gone. hopefully I get a response soon. Thanks for ideas. Fruitland, NM Shell Gas Station any info call me/

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