What To Do If You Lose Your Wallet On Vacation
When Adrian realized that her bank card was missing while she was traveling in Indonesia, she was devastated. She quickly ran through her mind and replayed the day, trying to remember the last time she had the card. She soon realized that she had simply forgotten it in the bank machine that last time she made a withdrawal.
She returned to the bank, but they told her that they had a policy to immediately destroy any cards from the machine that did not belong to their customers.
Losing a card can not only be a very time consuming and frustrating experience, it can also be very costly. Luckily for Adrian she was not planning to leave soon, so she had time to deal with getting the card replaced. She made arrangements to have a replacement sent to the local consulate and she was back shopping within a week.
“It was a long process,” she said of dealing with the banks to get her card replaced. “I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what to do. The bank said it was the credit cards responsibility. The credit card company said that it should be covered under my travel insurance and the travel insurance company said that I had to talk to my bank. No one was taking responsibility.”
She was lucky that her wallet was not stolen, but even if it had, the steps that she needed to take would be the same.
The time to prepare for losing your wallet, passport or just a credit card is long before you realize it is missing. Being prepared for the possibility can man such an emergency go much smoother. Make sure you have photocopies of your cards and documents so that you can tell the bank exactly what you are missing is the first step. Put them in a safe place or have a secured digital copy somewhere that you can access from anywhere.
Whether you lose your wallet at home or abroad it is always a good idea to start by filling out a police report. If you are flying domestically, the police report can help to prove your identity at the airport. According to the TSA there are other ways to prove your identity if you have lost your wallet or had it stolen. Be sure to arrive early just in case they ask for additional documents. This is a great time to break out the photocopies of your travel documents you made before the trip.
If you are abroad, and your passport is also missing, you need to get it replaced as soon as possible. Run down to the local police station and get the process started quickly so that you don’t incur extra costs if you are forced to miss your flight home.
The next thing to do is find the closest embassy — a complete list of US embassies can be found here — to schedule an emergency appointment. The embassy will be able to help you by replacing your passport and allowing someone you know to wire some money to you directly at the embassy.
Once you have the process started to replace your passport and you have money to eat and live, it is time to start dealing with the rest of the contents of your wallet.
- Contact your bank and cancel any credit/ debit cards that were stolen. If you are able to report them stolen before someone uses your card, you do not have any liability. If someone accesses your credit card before you report it, you are liable for the first $50.
- The next thing to do it issue a fraud alert with each of the big three credit reporting services: Experian, TransUnion; and Equifax. This will prevent someone from opening an account in your name or taking out a loan in your name.
- If your social security card was in your wallet, you will need to call the local Social Security Administration office and report your card stolen. Obtaining a replacement card is free, but you will need to be careful when you report your taxes the next year to be sure that someone hasn’t been working under your identity.
In Adrian’s case, she was traveling for an extended period of time and relied heavily on her bank card to make small withdrawals along her trip. She was able to contact her bank and have a replacement card sent to the embassy. She continued her journey relatively uninterrupted with her replacement card.
Being prepared for this type of emergency not only reduced her stress level when it happened, it allowed her to continue her trip and enjoy herself despite the potentially trip ending event.
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