Our wallets carry some of our most important valuables like cash, credit cards, personal identity documents, driver’s licence, and more. If we were to ever lose our wallets, then in addition to monetary loss we also face the hassle of calling banks, cancelling our cards and being vulnerable to identity theft and associated risks.
While losing a wallet in one’s home country can be a nightmarish experience, one can easily imagine the horror of your wallet being misplaced or stolen while travelling abroad. The mere thought of it can send us into a state of panic.
Also read: Overcoming A Personal Financial Crisis
If you have ever wondered what to do when you lose your wallet? What to do if you lost your wallet while travelling internationally? How can I get money abroad without a card? How can I ensure it does not happen again?
Then this article will help put your fears to rest. Here’s a list of actionable steps to take if you’ve lost your wallet, plus some precautionary steps that can prevent such a misfortune in future.
1. Freeze your debit and credit cards
The first thing you need to do is call your bank and disable all the debit/credit cards that were in your wallet or purse. You can avoid any financial liability by reporting the loss of your cards immediately – before anyone gets a chance to misuse them.
Google the helpline number and make that call as soon as possible. If you are abroad, consider using free calling services such as WhatsApp or Viber to save on international call charges.
Alternatively, many banking apps also allow you to limit card usage (or put them on hold) with a simple drag-to-deactivate option. If you haven’t already downloaded your bank’s app, do so right now and check if the feature is offered.
If you have a digital wallet, just before you freeze the cards, you may want to withdraw a little cash (if the facility is available) or ask a helpful shop owner to bill you for a certain amount and return most of it via cash so that you are not left without any money.
Safety Tip: Take photos of your cards and essential documents and store them digitally (with password protection), so that you can easily retrieve the details in times of need.
2. Retrace your steps
Some may consider this, an exercise in futility, but there is always a slim chance of finding your wallet or purse if you are able to quickly realise that it is missing and you haven’t moved too far from the suspected location.
Deduce the time between when you last used your wallet and all the places you have been to in the interim period. A Good Samaritan could be waiting for you to come back and claim your belongings. Even if that doesn’t happen, at least it gives you the assurance that you made an effort.
Safety Tip: If you are prone to misplacing things, consider investing in a GPS-enabled wallet tracker. These slim devices look just like a credit card and are helpful in tracking your wallet via your smartphone.
3. Report your loss to the local police
If your wallet is stolen, you must visit the nearest police station to file a report. It is the first step towards ensuring authorities act upon your complaint immediately and minimise the chances of your becoming a victim to fraud or any form of identity theft.
Get multiple copies of the police report, which will be required to lodge a complaint and reinstate all your important documents in the future.
Communicating with the police may become difficult if you are in a foreign land and language is a barrier. If you have made bookings via a travel agency, they will have on-location partners who could assist you in interacting with the authorities. Alternatively, you can contact your hotel’s front desk for assistance.
Safety Tip: It is recommended that you make a log of all interactions you have with authorities, including the date, time, and names and designations. Filing a report can often be a lengthy procedure, so being prepared can help you save time that you might otherwise waste in running around from pillar to post.
4. If abroad, approach your national consulate or embassy
Your country’s embassy will be extremely helpful if you are stranded abroad without money or essential documents. They can help you communicate with the police, get in touch with your emergency contacts back home, and arrange for temporary travel documents that will allow you to move about freely in the visiting country.
If you have lost your passport along with your wallet, the embassy could get you a new one quickly and facilitate safe passage back home.
Safety Tip: Keep the embassy details handy at all times in a foreign country. If you are travelling extensively, keep your embassy updated regarding your whereabouts so they can track you in case of an emergency in a remote location.
5. Contact friends or family back home
If you have been able to get some cash through your digital wallet, you may be able to get around for a day or two. However, you will need to contact friends or family back home to make it through the rest of your trip.
If your digital wallet allows for it, you can ask them to transfer funds there. This may be convenient if you wish to spend on food, transport, and shopping in few countries. However in most countries for miscellaneous local expenses, you may require hard cash.
Identify a money transfer location and ask friends/family to transfer money to you. With over 200,000 Xpress Money agent locations worldwide, you are never too far away from a money transfer location. A 16-digit XPIN ensures a secure transaction and eliminates any further hiccups on your trip.
Safety Tip: If you are on a multi-country trip, don’t ask for all the money to be wired to you in one go. You will incur currency exchange costs on conversions (if the currency is not valid at the next destination). You can rely on our money transfer locations in over 170 countries, to have the required money transferred to you, as and when you need it.
6. Report and replace the lost items
The last step is to report the loss of items to the right officials – whether it is your bank or the local police. Do this once you are back from your travels, or immediately if the unfortunate incident has happened in your home city.
You would have frozen your cards as soon as you realised the loss. Now it is time to visit your bank, file a report, and put in an application to replace the said items. This will render all your previous cards invalid, and nobody can misuse them to cause monetary loss or affect your credit history. For government identity cards, you will have to attach a copy of the police report along with the required form for their re-issuance.
Chances are you may never find yourself in a situation where you lose your wallet and are left stranded. But if you do, be prepared to take action quickly to minimise your losses. Be vigilant at all times, especially when you travel abroad, and keep a close watch on your valuables and wallet at all times. Stay safe!