What to Do if You Find a Lost Wallet?
Have you ever wondered what to do if you found a lost wallet? It's not really a "finders keepers" situation — and you definitely can't use any of the plastic that might be housed in the wallet. That would put you on the hook for potential fraud charges.
The right thing to do when you find a wallet is to take steps to return it to the person it belongs to.
Safely returning a wallet to someone who lost it can be a bit more complex than you might imagine, though. You might also run into some bad advice for handling this situation, which is why it's a good idea to read the guide below.
Some people will tell you that you can drop a lost wallet in a mail collection box, and the U.S. Postal Service will take it from there. On the surface, this sounds like good advice. The USPS already has a process in place for delivering items to houses across the nation. As long as the wallet has an ID with a good address in it, why shouldn't the USPS cart it to wherever it belongs?
In reality, however, the USPS actively discourages this action. It's not impossible that a wallet dumped into a mailbox would make it back to its rightful owner. However, the USPS doesn't have any sort of program to handle this, which means there's no oversight or assurance that the wallet and everything in it will show up where it's supposed to.
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The best way to return a lost wallet depends, in part, on where you found it.
If you find a misplaced wallet in a local business, such as a store, office or restaurant, ask to speak to the manager or owner of that location. You might leave the wallet in their care. Chances are the wallet's owner will retrace their steps looking for the missing item, and the business can restore it to them.
However, if you find a wallet lost outside a business or you don't feel comfortable leaving the wallet with the business for any reason, you can take some steps on your own to reunite the wallet with its owner:
- Look for any contact information inside the wallet. If possible, reach out via phone to confirm the person lost the wallet and make arrangements to return it. It's best to do so in a public location — don't go to the person's house or invite them to yours.
- If there's a debit card in the wallet, you might contact the bank associated with it. If it's a local branch, you may be able to leave the wallet with them or ask them to contact the account holder so they can call you about retrieving the wallet.
- If there are credit cards in the wallet, you can do the same thing. Call the customer service line on the back of the card and let them know you have the wallet and card. Ask them to contact the account holder and provide your phone number so they can get in touch.
If you don't want to take up the search yourself, you can also leave the wallet with a local police department. What you shouldn't do is post information about the wallet on social media. That's likely to result in people trying to claim the wallet when it's not theirs.
When police receive a lost wallet, it's filed with the property department. A clerk in that department will attempt to contact the owner using some of the same tactics mentioned above. The wallet will also be held safely should the owner call to report it missing and find out if anyone turned it in.
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