Travel Assistance 101: What to Do if Your Wallet is Lost or Stolen While Traveling

Lost WalletLosing your wallet—especially while traveling—can be nerve-wracking, frustrating and costly.  While that’s not a situation anyone would like to experience first-hand, if you’re prepared and know what to expect, you can actually make things a lot easier on yourself. If you’re an On Call member, contact us right away and we’ll help you through it. Everyone else can follow these simple steps:

Where to Start: Domestic Travelers

Even if you don’t suspect your wallet was actually stolen, you’ll still need to begin at the local police station to create a paper trail. Your bank and credit card companies will not only need a copy, but this also helpful with filing travel insurance claims. And assuming your ID was in your wallet, filing a police report helps validate your information should someone try to use it illegally and also helps prove your identity at the airport.

According to the TSA, not having an ID does not necessarily mean you won’t be allowed to fly. In fact, if you’re cooperative about providing additional information, the TSA has other means of confirming your identity. Make sure to arrive at the airport extra early and, along with your copy of the police report, bring anything else you can think of that will help prove to TSA officials that you are who you say you are (kudos to those who remembered to make copies of their important travel documents before they left home!) If the TSA representative is satisfied, he/she will give you a boarding pass with a notation that you don’t have an ID.

Where to Start: International Travelers

Filing a police report is also a good first step for international travelers for the same reasons mentioned above.  But not so fast…if your passport is also missing, you’ll need to get this replaced ASAP—no ifs, ands, or buts—before you’re allowed to leave the country. Check out our post with step-by-step instructions on what to do if your passport goes missing while traveling abroad.

Now it’s time to locate the US Embassy in the country you’re visiting (for a complete list, click here), to schedule an emergency appointment. Generally, appointments are available Monday-Friday mornings (excluding Federal Holidays) and there are no walk-ins allowed. The embassy can assist you with replacing your passport and if your cash and credit cards were stolen, they can help you contact someone at home who can wire money directly to the embassy.

Note: Filing a police report can be quite frustrating if you’re experiencing language barriers with the local authorities. On Call members can call us for 24/7/365 for language interpretation services as well as emergency travel funds assistance anytime you’re 50 miles or more away from home.


Next Steps: Domestic and International Travelers

So now that you can at least get home and you have some money for dinner, what should you do now?

  • Cancel your credit/debit cards. With ATM cards, if you report the loss before someone uses your ATM/debit card, you have zero liability, but your liability increases in other instances. With credit cards, if you report the loss before your card is used fraudulently, you are not liable; if not, your liability is limited to $50.
  • Initiate a fraud alert from each of the three credit reporting bureaus– Experian, TransUnion  and Equifax. The service is free for 90 days. If someone else tries to set up a new account or take out a loan in your name you’ll receive a phone call to confirm it’s you.
  • Get a free credit report from each of the three bureaus through; this is the official site created through the help of the Federal Trade Commission.
  • If your social security card was in your wallet (and now you know why it NEVER should have been in the first place) call your local Social Security Administration office and explain what happened. They will replace the card for free, but you’ll have to fill out Form SS-5 and present documentation.
  • Make your life easier next time—follow our 8 tips for protecting your identity when you travel  and check out our post Travel Con Games + Travel Tips to Avoid Them. And as always, don’t forget to purchase travel assistance before you leave!


Safe Travels!